• Transform magazine
  • November 30, 2022

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Why understanding your audience is key to delivering commercial value to sponsors

Simon Smith Wright

Simon Smith-Wright is the CEO at leading revenue generating streaming partner, Push Live. In a world where potentially lucrative sponsorship deals are attainable again for brands post-Covid-19, he discusses, amongst many things, what sponsors really value and what else needs to be considered in a good brand-sponsor partnership as well as high quality content.

Sponsorship and brand partnerships are becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing mix, and as covid disruption is put in the rear view mirror significant deals are being announced by the day.

There are exciting opportunities out there in this shifting digital landscape. However, the evolution of audience behaviours means that dynamic content and strong brand alignment simply won’t be enough to ensure long-term success. Social media is a vital part of any successful partnership, but whilst many have come to terms with managing multiple channels with the prospect of a decentralised web and multiple metaverses, there will soon be many more channels to navigate in this cookieless world. Delivering tangible ROI and commercial value to sponsors is becoming increasingly difficult, and understanding your audience, where they are, and when they’re there, is vital.

What do sponsors value?

Even the biggest sports brands and largest events can no longer simply beckon a long line of potential sponsors these days. Proving demonstrable and tangible ROI is a must. Doing that in the current landscape is easier said than done, but without hard numbers and clear proof points, sponsors will begin to look elsewhere.

FC Barcelona recently announced a significant new sponsorship deal with audio streaming giant Spotify to much acclaim. However, interestingly, the reported sum of €280m could have been substantially more. According to Spanish publication Sport, despite having a huge global fanbase, the Spanish club’s database contained less than 1% of its followers, which prevented them from negotiating an even more economically advantageous deal. This is a fascinating insight into what sponsors are really looking for. Whilst not prohibitive to the sponsorship deal in its entirety, even one of the biggest football clubs in the world was unable to prove their value – this lack of audience insight proved costly.

Why content is not necessarily king

Whilst a successful sponsorship or brand partnership cannot come about without great, authentic content, that content alone does not guarantee commercial success. When it comes to sponsorships and brand partnerships, it’s easy for marketers to immediately put their focus into the creative content of a launch, forgetting to consider how their campaign will be effectively distributed.

Consumers are constantly scrolling, swiping and using multiple screens at once so trying to get their attention has never been harder. Simply relying on great content is a gamble you can’t afford to take. Ensuring content reaches audiences at the right time in the right place is crucial to driving engagement and real value for all stakeholders. To achieve this, an understanding of your audience is key, so brands must drill down into their behaviours – what attracts and retains their interest?

Reaching the right people at the right time

To deliver for sponsors, getting eyeballs on their brand is absolutely essential. However, the way in which consumers behave online and consume content is rapidly changing and audiences are becoming increasingly fragmented. As we look ahead to the future with Web3 and not one but multiple metaverses on the horizon, this issue is only going to become more pressing.

But even in the here and now, navigating and utilising social platforms to distribute content created between sponsors and brands that engage consumers is no easy feat. Social media was previously an optimal channel to drive organic reach, but brands and sponsors are increasingly having to rely on paid media to deliver the desired results on these platforms.

An audience first approach is vital to achieving success in the current landscape. Brands that harness the power of their already highly engaged followings and fanbases can turn to these fans to share their content with zero media spend. Such an approach equips an army of loyal fans, rather than a handful of expensive influencers.

Creating ‘live moments’ that fans can also broadcast on their own channels simultaneously gives brands and sponsors the ability to reach and engage vast audiences. On platforms such as Twitch, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok, live content is at the apex of their current strategy and as a result is treated far more advantageously by their respected algorithms. Moreover, using multiple channels across several different platforms creates a cascading effect enabling content to reach the targeted audience, irrespective of where they are.

We did exactly this for Red Bull Racing with their F1 car launch this year and the announcement of their new sponsorship with Oracle. We empowered their fanbase and utilised over 6,400 fan channels to livestream the launch to their own followers, reaching almost six million people live during the event. Working with these fan channels was a key aspect of our distribution and audience engagement strategy and ensured we reached existing and potential fans in a way they would find relevant and engaging.

Customising content

Whilst distribution will be critical, brands that really go the extra mile when delivering for sponsors will be those that master customisation as well.

Such an approach ensures that you’re not only reaching large audiences but driving engagement. Secondly, it gives sponsors the potential to host bespoke, branded content on their own platform for their own already engaged audiences. Crucially, rather than a copy and paste approach that often turns off viewers, customisation ensures that content is relevant to the sponsor’s respective audiences.

Moreover, as brands look to maximise their sponsorship revenues, it’s becoming increasingly common to have sponsors for specific, local markets. The ability to provide content to a global audience that is customised to suit respective markets and demographics gives brands an incredible tool that can ensure they deliver content that creates tangible value for their sponsors. It also means that they don’t have to implement a separate approach or creative idea for each market.

In the current market, brands that prioritise audience engagement and reach will see them deliver for their sponsors. Implementing a strategy that doesn't solely focus on creative but navigating the challenges posed by changing audience behaviors will deliver not only exceptional but demonstrable results that will see sponsors return time and time again.