Study Reveals Need For Improved Measurement In Sponsorship Marketing

Marketers have increased their expenditures on sponsorships significantly over the past several years, but progress on understanding its business impact hasn’t kept up. A report from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) finds that while total North American sponsorship spending has risen 41 percent since 2010 to $24.2 billion, only 37 percent of marketers have a standardized process for measuring the returns on their investments.

“Despite the continued growth of sponsorship investment and the repeated sentiment from marketers that there is a need for improved measurement and assessment, there has been little progress toward this goal,” says ANA CEO Bob Liodice. “It’s time for the industry to substantially upgrade sponsorship accountability, and this report is a material step in the right direction.”

Among marketers with a defined measurement process, 57 percent have a sponsorship measurement budget. Of those, most spend five percent or less on sponsorship measurement as a percentage of sponsorship rights—the cost of the sponsorship itself, not including activation costs. The top metrics used to measure the return on investment (ROI) of sponsorship are total sponsorship investment financial return, total media exposure financial return, and product or service sales.

The top metrics marketers use to measure the return on objective of sponsorship are awareness of the brand, awareness of the company’s/brand’s sponsorship, attitudes towards the brand, amount of total media exposure, and amount of social media exposure. Return on objective metrics are focused on behavioral outcomes. The need for validated results for sponsorship initiatives has increased in importance for 78 percent of respondents, which, the ANA notes, indicates the significant pressure to validate results.

“The survey points out the continuing, unmet need for more sophisticated sponsorship measurement and valuation practices,” says MASB President and CEO Tony Pace. “Developing and disseminating such practices is the next step for the MASB’s Sponsorship Accountability Metrics Project team.”

Going forward, the ANA and MASB recommend that marketers begin challenging the measurement community to assist with additional perspective and prioritize brand preference attribution for sponsorship, in addition to developing guidelines, benchmarks and best practices.

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