Written by Kelly Cranston, Director, Sponsorship Marketing Visa Canada Corporation
Sponsorship has been firmly established as an important element of the marketing mix for some time. According to figures reported in the 16th Annual Canadian Sponsorship Landscape Study (CSLS) from 2021, the portion of marketing communications budgets allocated to sponsorship has ranged from 15 per cent at the low end, to nearly 30 per cent at the high end over the course of the last 15 years or more.
Interestingly though, sponsorship has been firmly entrenched as an integral part of so many brands’ marketing efforts, and measurement, evaluation and tracking return on investment (ROI) tied to sponsorship continues to be a primary concern among marketers. According to the CSLS report, demonstrating ROI, as well as analytics, evaluation and measurement has been consistently identified as the top concern among sponsors, properties and agencies each year since 2013. As well, the majority of brand and property professionals agree that demonstrating the value of sponsorship continues to be a leading challenge.
Here are some key guiding principles to inform measurement plans tied to sponsorship investments:
1. Identify clear objectives and build measurement plans tied to these objectives
There can be many related but different objectives linked to sponsorship properties which may require a multi-faceted approach to tracking and measurement. Ensure that you define clear objectives and success measures from the outset to help inform your tracking and measurement plans.
2. Carve out budget and resources to support measurement as part of your sponsorship strategy
Evaluation is no longer a nice-to-have, but an imperative element of sponsorship marketing strategy and planning. There is enhanced expectation on marketers and properties alike to demonstrate ROI and prove tangible value, and sponsorship is no exception here. Ensure you invest a sufficient portion of your budget to third party tracking in order to yield reliable and impactful insights and metrics.
3. Ensure there is an understanding between both brands and properties that measurement should be a shared responsibility
The responsibility for demonstrating ROI and evaluating the relative effectiveness of sponsorship marketing efforts should be shared between both the property and the partner brand. It is imperative to ensure alignment between brands and properties on respective objectives, and to have clarity on who is accountable for measuring what elements of the partnership and/or activation from the outset to ensure the necessary metrics are tracked and to avoid duplication of efforts and confusion in reporting.
4. Recognize that data needs to translate into actionable insights
Sponsorship can be measured in many ways, and the outcomes can be complicated. There is a lot out there on sponsorship effectiveness, which adds to the noise. It’s not always intuitive or simple to understand, and it might not be clear what metrics and numbers to lean into in order to make more informed decisions. The magic in measurement comes from the triangulation of a number of different inputs. It is incumbent upon marketers to amalgamate multiple inputs and results to tell a cohesive story about your impact and why it matters.
Originally published on the CMA website on April 24th, 2023.