Jason Steele, Senior Director

According to one CNBC article, companies around the world are set to spend $65.8 billion on sponsorship deals in 2018, but few businesses actually know whether sponsorship works. It followed that only 19% of sponsorship professionals say that they can measure a return on investment. This statistic is surprising, especially when you consider the pressures exerted on marketing departments to justify their expenditure on partnerships.

How does the 19% actually measure ROI?
The most common explanation would be reliance on the rightsholder directly, a Nielsen methodology or a 3rd party tool that reports an AVE (Advertising Value Equivalency). Equating AVE or a brand uplift study has been a key focus for brands but this doesn’t uphold the fundamental reason why brands exist, to acquire customers, generate sales and make profit.

In the past, sports marketing agencies have activated partnerships in a similar way to a PR agency: develop a creative, generate ideas (with available assets) and distribute them to capture eyeballs and stimulate engagement. Why has this approach to activation been a staple ingredient within the industry?

Is it due to industry-wide perceptions?
From the RFPs we receive, there’s seems to be an industry-wide perception that partnerships are best suited to achieving reach and moving the needle on awareness and engagement based metrics. This perception is likely a bi-product from the days where partnerships were more geared towards placing a brand logo on something to drive brand association with a sport or entertainment property. 


Is it due to out-dated rights packages? 

Alongside branding opportunities, rightsholders possess fantastic money-can’t-buy assets and IP which brands can utilise to reach, engage and capture data on consumers. Are rightsholders providing partners with the correct rights packages to help brands generate lead, drive acquisition and sales? Can they evolve quickly enough to support this need from the industry?
Is it due to the lack of specialist capabilities and knowledge?
Partnerships now span many specialist marketing disciplines such as communications, content, PR, media, social, digital, experiential, data and more. Do rightsholders and brands have readily available specialists to connect the dots of activation and drive consumers through the funnel? For example, what’s the activation approach to data? How do you use it? How do you capture it? What about GDPR? How do you make sense of it? How do you segment it? How do you activate on it?
Many of these questions are addressed through our fresh approach to partnership activation. We take the power of partnership rights packages and mixes them with specialist activation services to activate consumers through the full sales funnel and deliver a measurable return on investment.

Introducing CSM Engage
Over the last year we’ve been working hard behind the scenes with Greenroom Digital to develop a data-driven approach to partnership activation. This approach activates partnerships through-the-funnel (rather than just at the top) and enables us to track, attribute and measure conversion-based metrics such as customer acquisition and sales. The video below shows how it works:


Personalised ‘Passion Point’ content is king
The recent 2018 PWC Sports Survey highlighted content personalisation as a key focus area within the next 3-5 years to drive greater ROI. Sport and Entertainment is a perfect place for brands to capture the attention (and data) of passionate new audiences.

By utilising a combination of content, media, data and marketing automation specialists, CSM Engage enables brands to play in the ‘personalisation’ space by delivering well-timed, relevant and personalised ‘passion point’ content to fans. Through our pilot campaigns we’ve seen efficiencies and uplifts across media, engagement and conversion based metrics, which further highlights the power of engaging audiences through partnerships:


Impacting the bottom-line through partnerships
We launched four CSM Engage pilot campaigns with a range of brands back in the summer and already we are able to measure the impact our approach is having on their bottom line. The early signs are very positive.

Alongside these results our brands are gaining rich insights and research on their captured sponsorship audiences, enabling them to make informed decisions on how to steer their partnership and ATL strategies.

“Since launching, we’ve reached millions of fans through four campaigns and built first-party databases for our clients that would exceed the capacity of Wembley. Our communications strategies (aimed at these databases) are already delivering strong conversions at a level our clients have never seen across partnerships before.  For one client, we’ve built a large database from a single partnership, generated over 500 ‘strong prospects’ via a lead nurture strategy and converted 30% of those ‘strong prospects’ in just an 8-week period – a scalable and long term solution already driving positive ROI.”  Tom Huggins, Co-Founder Greenroom Digital

If you are interested in finding out more on CSM Engage and our pilot campaigns, please email engage@csm.com