Sponsorship Growth Predicted But Ability To Prove Effectiveness Is Key To Progress

Marketers and industry professionals are predicting growth in sponsorship revenues in 2018 as the market diversifies into new areas such eSports and eGaming and attracts new investment, according to a report published by MKTG in association with Think! Sponsorship and the European Sponsorship Association.

The report reveals an increasing confidence from sponsorship professionals that the market is growing, with 59% of respondents forecasting an increase in revenue this year (up from 50% in 2017), and 84% projecting significant sponsorship growth and expansion in eSports and eGaming.  

‘Frontier 2018’ is based on a survey of over 500 sponsorship professionals in the sports and entertainment industry worldwide to understand key market drivers and current thinking as well as determine future trends.  

While optimism within the sponsorship marketplace remains high, there is a continuing shift in the perception and role of sponsorship within the marketing ecosystem. 

The biggest challenge facing the industry appears to be the need to prove the value that sponsorship returns. The key findings can be summarised into the following insights:

Metrics: Only 19% of sponsorship professionals are confident that they can actually measure the business value return of the sponsorships they undertake, and despite key drivers for sponsorship selection and success being brand consideration and preference, the top two named tools used for evaluation are digital and social media metrics  

Growth: Growth is being driven by a better understanding of how sponsorship can be integrated with other channels and a clearer understanding of the breadth of brand and business objectives it can deliver.  Two thirds of brands now see sponsorship as a legitimate marketing communications channel, a channel in its own right that can tell a brand story.  

Activation: Social is considered the number one activation channel and the main content platform for sponsorship by 68% of respondents, and while this marks a rise of six percent on last year, the prevailing sentiment (at 83%) is that authentic engagement of sponsorship, through digital and social activations, remains a challenge.  Investment in the areas of live events and event executions has increased by nine percent, taking it to the number two activation channel behind social
Charlie Wylie, Managing Partner, at MKTG commented: “The report shows real confidence in the market which will see sponsorship continue to grow.  With a better understanding of the multiple and diverse ways it can be used, sponsorship has now established itself as a channel in its own right that can deliver brand saliency, consideration, and ultimately drive sales.  Challenges do remain in proving the effectiveness of sponsorship and there is concern that in an ever-more stringently regulated industry, the emphasis on return and value must be addressed as quickly as possible.  The most effective way to continue and accelerate the growth of sponsorship is for brands, rights holders and agencies to understand the “why” of any sponsorship and use measurement metrics that calculate the return on the sponsorship objectives and ultimately the value to the business.”

Frontier 2018 research was conducted across a base of over 500 industry professionals in over twenty different countries from EMEA, North, South and Central America and APAC.