We analyzed millions of conversations - social media, blogs, forums,
news sites - to find out how consumer behavior has and
is changing during the pandemic.
Insights that'll help brands understand their audience.
Unlike advertising, event sponsorship doesn’t directly persuade consumers to buy a product. Sponsorship is when you send a specific message about your brand. This in turn, creates emotions that will motivate the target audience to choose one brand over another.
There’s a big gap in knowledge between brands and sponsorship marketers. The sponsors don’t know the brand’s audience, which means any decisions they make rely on guesswork rather than data.
The best sponsorship marketing reaches a specific target market and adds value to its experience. But, if the sponsor doesn’t have accurate audience insights, it's going to be a struggle to hit targets.
Why are people willing to pay top dollar for sponsorships?
Major league baseball teams, high school soccer team, movie streaming channel, music venue, local movie house... they're all interested in getting brands to sponsor their event.
Whether it's a local event or the rugby Six Nations, brands can't afford to ignore. Supporting large or small, local or international events provide advertising opportunities and invite consumers to choose brand X over brand Z, because brand X is supporting something that consumers care about.
Sponsorship is about...
- Building relationships
- Driving brand awareness
- Increasing brand loyalty
- Improving brand image
- Increasing reach to the target audience
In the Independent Evaluation Group’s - IEG - Guide to Sponsorships, it states that 70% of North America business sponsorships would be related to sports, with 30% split between entertainment, annual events like festivals and fairs, charitable causes, the arts and associations.
Sponsors need audience insights
Regardless of the type of sponsorship - events, teams, TV, movies, leagues, individuals - a brand will need to be able to answer the following question from a sponsor… Will it improve brand awareness and increase positive brand equity?
To answer this question, you need an audience analytics strategy that'll pull out audience insights.
Gather insights across markets
I live in Luxembourg and always find time to watch West Ham play. During the Formula 1 season, I watch every single race. I stream movies from multiple channels, and watch on different devices.
What I’m trying to say is, fans - be it of teams, leagues, channels, etc. - are located worldwide. To target your approach, you have to dig deep into global markets and segment your audience according to which attributes fans have that’ll mean they’ll engage with your brand.
For instance, a large segment of your audience might favor a particular brand of beer while watching football. There’s your segment. Even if those fans are different genders, live in different countries, and are from various age groups.
To find the best match for sponsorship, you should analyze and compare both your audience and that of your sponsor. That’s to say, the your league audience, and the beer brand that’s looking to sponsor your league.
You can then build buyer personas - ideal customer - for each audience, and find your shared prospective customer.
As I’ve already said, the benefit in the digital age is that advertising and sponsorship have multiple touchpoints where they can engage with consumers.
For example, let’s say that a large segment of people that watch Formula 1, favor Twitter over other social media channels. Brands sponsoring F1 can use this insight to target their advertising campaigns, while engaging with fans on their favorite channel.
Audience insight | Choose the right social channel
Following Euro 2020 - postponed for a year, due to COVID - we looked at how much social media visibility sponsors had during the tournament.
We found 1.3M posts that generated engagement, with the sponsors collecting 30K mentions.
Coca-Cola received a spike in mentions following Cristiano Ronaldo swapping a bottle of Coke with water during a press call. With other players adding to the buzz, Heineken also received mentions.
The brand that triumphed though was TikTok. The image below - Ronaldo mentions removed - shows how TikTok became the most prominent brand throughout the Euro 2020.
Results over time filtered by sponsors reveal TikTok's consistent online presence during the course of the tournament.
Visual analytics performed during the tournament showed that TikTok mentions also flooded other social channels, such as Twitter. Image recognition found the logo being identified as part of the official tournament branding, along with user-generated content from the platform generating over 50K in engagement.
TikTok was the platform of choice for fans to express their reactions to the games, making its sponsorship of Euro 2020 the perfect match - as the social channel was able to reach existing users while presenting to its core target audience.
Visual analysis recognized TikTok via official tournament branding as well as fan generated content, showing how the brand resonates with the fans of the tournament.
4 audience insights sources
There are multiple sources for audience insights...
Collect insights about the people that are engaging with your brand - likes, retweets, shares, pins, comments - on your social media channels. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Also, look at your competitors’ channels for comments relating to your market that may or may not mention your brand. These consumer and customer insights will provide a 360-degree view of your market and targeted audience.
Identify the journey consumers and customers take on your website as they move through the purchasing process. Track behavioral patterns and content consumption, to understand what they’re looking for and how they’re finding that information.
Tools like Microsoft Clarity and Hotjar will show you behavior on individual pages - mouse movement, scrolling behavior. With heat maps revealing where on a page visitors are concentrating.
Track site visitor behavior with Hotjar.
Google Analytics can be used to show how long site visitors are spending on a page, and how many pages they visit afterwards.
Find out who’s talking about your brand, products, services on blogs, social media, review sites, forums, etc., and listen to what they’re saying. How they're behaving.
Again, monitor your competitors’ brand mentions for a complete picture of your market.
You’ve a ton of SaaS tools that’ll also hold audience insights - content management system, chat tools, call center transcripts, customer service tickets.
Get to know your fans
Back in the day, sports sponsorship meant putting your logo on a team’s kit, on the advertising boards around the pitch, on a stuffed cuddly toy on sale in the merchandise store.
You hoped your brand would be seen. Be recognized… on TV.
Oh for the days when all sponsors had to worry about was getting their brand seen on TV. Captured on a footballer’s jersey. Plastered on the helmet of a Formula 1 driver. Glimpsed on the back wall during a press conference.
Now, it’s way more involved. Sports fans aren’t sitting on their sofa, bowl of popcorn on hand, watching the match on television. Our new world has brought us a digital sofa, and digital screens.
Unfortunately, no sign of digital popcorn... yet.
We’re streaming. Watching replays on YouTube. Using our computers, mobiles, tablets. Sponsors need to know exactly where their audience is, and how best to get their brand in front of them.
Plus, they need to find every instance of where their brand has appeared - tagged or not - online. Otherwise, how will they accurately prove ROI?
Person goes to a sporting event. Takes a picture of the crowd. Shares that photo on their social media channel. It goes viral.
A person in that crowd is wearing a shirt with a sponsors’ brand. Boom! That result has to be found and measured.
I’m going to look at how researching your audience will help you understand your fans, and find the best sponsors for your brand.
Before you can win new sponsors, you need to be able to prove that you can give the sponsor value for money. To do this, you need to...
Get to know today’s fans
Today’s fans can’t be put in a single box. They include all genders, age groups, employment segments, lifestyles, behavior categories. They use multiple media devices.
With such a diverse audience, gut feelings can’t be relied on. Audience analysis and insights need to be determined before sponsorships are decided.
Find your fans
Breaking down all the media types, you need to know how many of your fans are on each type - how many are seeing your brand - and what content they’re engaging with.
Set your budget
Lockdown crushed budgets in most industries, sports and entertainment particularly as events were cancelled, and stadiums and theaters were closed to the public.
As the doors start to open and games are back on our screens, sponsorship marketing is gaining momentum. Proving value for money in marketing, R&D, sponsoring partnerships are essential.
Which audience insights to collect
To know your audience, you need to access high-quality, meaningful audience insights. Insights generated by data will provide a deeper understanding of your audience, ensuring sponsorship marketing will be targeted. Date-driven audience insights will give you the who, what, when, where, and why...
Start with basic information about your audience - who they are, where they’re located, what they do, etc. This data will not only help your sponsors, but your marketing team will be able to better target its campaigns.
- Annual pre-tax income
- Education level
Motivations, opinions, interests
Dig deeper so that you can segment your audience and your sponsors can target effectively. Understand what motivates your audience and persuades them to engage with your brand, events, campaigns. To find out how they feel - their sentiment toward your brand - you need to identify…
- What motivates them to engage with your business?
- What do they love/hate about your brand?
- What would they improve?
- Which of your competitors do they use, and why?
- Why would they move to a competitor?
Brand loyalty and preferences
Taking sponsorship categories, you must learn your audiences’ buying behavior and brand preferences. These audience insights will help your sponsors understand how your audience feels about their industry and brand.
When measuring sponsorship results, you’ll be able to prove the impact the campaign had on your audience’s opinion of the sponsorship category. Categories would include…
- Automotive & mobility
- Media & entertainment
- Pharma & healthcare
- Consumer goods
- Beauty & fashion
- Hospitality & Travel
- Media, Sports & entertainment
- Tech & Telecom
- Retail & e-commerce
Understanding your audience’s preferences will help when selecting your sponsors.
For instance… you discover that your audience has 4500 people who favor Coca-Cola, with 42% looking for a healthier version of the beverage. Great insights to share with the brand. Awesome insights to share with their competitors, if they’re trying to grab Coke’s customers.
When COVID stepped up to the plate
The pandemic knocked us for six. While we’re slowly recovering, with live events returning, brands need to understand exactly what’s changed. I know, I know you’ve a ton of historic data about your audience. Is it still accurate?
The sports and entertainment industry need to find current and accurate data about their audiences to present to sponsors and advertisers. Event attendance, ticket sales, subscriptions, advertising visibility at events…
Audience insight | Listen to what fans want
When the world went into lockdown, in-person events hit the wall. We went online for shopping, socialising, and entertainment. The popularity of gaming and esports increased and they became a major source of entertainment and community, across all age ranges.
As we move towards a new normality, traditional sports leagues must find a balance between physical events and virtual.
Consumers have shown that even though there are live events that they can safely attend, conversations reveal that people are still talking about the benefits of gaming, watching videos of streamers playing games, and joining gaming communities
Conversation Clusters shows the main conversations around the realm of gaming and esports between January and April 2021.
While people are returning to live events, brands should listen and understand how fans have changed during the pandemic. And which of those behavioral changes are going to stick.
Keep your data current
When the pandemic hit, most sporting events were suspended. As the world settled into lockdown life, the seasons kicked off again, albeit in formats we’d never witnessed before.
When the NBA season - National BasketBall Association - continued, a few months later, it did so without an audience. What replaced the audience? Ads.
Great news for the industry, but what does this mean for the teams? This is where social media came into its own, with fans stuck at home driving conversations in an attempt to stir up the levels of excitement experienced at live events.
But what about brands?
The NBA partnered with Microsoft and created as close to the stadium experience as possible. Using Microsoft Teams, 300 fans were shown on screens in the stands. Big screens. The fans were able to watch a live feed of the game, and react in real time. With those stuck at home able to see and hear their reactions.
— Microsoft (@Microsoft) July 24, 2020
These large screens not only created a live-event buzz, they also provided advertising space. At the time, major broadcasters were reporting that their TV ad space for the MLB season - Major League Baseball - was 90% sold out. They also encouraged a flurry of new advertisers to get onboard to present their ads to a captive audience.
It’s a whole new playing field
Yes, you have audience insights from before COVID-19 struck. But audience behavior and engagement patterns have changed. Maybe forever.
Slowly, we’re returning to some kind of normalcy, but don’t expect to see these new ad spaces disappear. And, there’ll be some fans that won’t return to the stadiums. Instead, they’ll be happy to experience this new and improved view from home. Safe on their sofa. Saving money on overpriced hotdogs and baseball caps.
Audience insight | How consumer behavior changed
Podcasts have been rising in popularity for the last five years. By the end of 2021, it's predicted that it will be a billion-dollar industry.
41% of news consumers globally listened to podcasts in 2020.
Global share of voice - spotify dominated the conversations around podcasts between October 2020 and March 2021.
During lockdown, podcasts kept growing, keeping its position as one of the best ways for advertisers to reach niche and mainstream audiences.
Podcast analytics show that podcast listeners are more engaged, more likely to buy, and more likely to recommend products they hear about on podcasts than any other consumer, with a $2.42 return on podcast ad spend.
Podcast metrics like downloads will help you predict the reach of your host-live-read sponsorship. But what you'll quickly see is that all this leads to a higher price.
There were 2600+ podcast mentions of video game consoles from February 2021 to March 2021 on podcasts. Which is the best one for your brand sponsorship?
The best podcast sponsorship results build trust over a long period of time. Will a one-time live-read work for your brand?
A major source of news and entertainment, podcasts can provide a comprehensive amount of consumer insights. Talkwalker's Podcast monitoring - part of our speech analytics feature - means this valuable sponsorship opportunity can now be monitored for hidden brand mentions, finding new influencers, trend research, and campaign optimization.
Diving into video games, we checked Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox, and found that they're discussed evenly across multiple podcasts.
Share of voice of Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox divided equally in podcasts between February 2021 and March 2021.
Looking more closely at Nintendo, we found a recurrent podcast - Nintendo Switch Craft - that focused on all things related to the Switch console and the different games.
Find the precise moments where your topic of interest gets mentioned.
This particular podcast has 600+ episodes and concentrates on one brand. Nintendo should monitor what's being said about its new releases and games for a full picture of what an influencer says and how followers might respond, to identify consumer insights from unscripted conversations.
How to stand out to your sponsors
Collect relevant audience insights to identify what separates you from your competitors. Your sponsor is not interested in your brand, it’s interested in your audience. Share your audience data with your sponsor to prove that your fans will help them achieve their sponsorship goals.
Monitor promotional content
Promotional content should be monitored and optimized regularly, to ensure maximum exposure of your sponsor’s campaign and to reach its goals…
Regular monitoring will help you understand which campaigns are performing and resonating with your sponsor’s target audience. You’ll also find where campaigns are failing, so you can modify them in real time.
Are you meeting your sponsor’s goals?
If your sponsor’s goal is to drive brand awareness and loyalty, measure engagement with the number of mentions, shares, and retweets.
Again, if you find engagement is low, modify your content.
Are you on the right channel?
Which channel(s) does your sponsor’s target audience use? What type of content do they engage with - photos, video, text?
Understanding which is the top performing channel and media, means you can maximize the impact of your sponsor’s campaign.
Sponsors can be a big draw for your fans. But, finding the right sponsor is a challenge.
Let's sum up what you need to do...
Identify your audience
If you want sponsors that your audience will engage with, you need to know your fans - interests, behavior, purchasing habits, demographics
Choose brand categories that resonate with your audience
What types of brands match the interests of your audience?
If most of your fans are interested in IT, you need to include technology companies as possible sponsors. If they're crazy about luxury cars...
Get the idea?
Find specific brands
Now you've identified the category, you need to find the brands.
You've got a fanbase that's hot for pizza. Use social media and visual analytics to identify which brand is the most popular.
Using Talkwalker’s consumer intelligence platform and its multiple features - image recognition, visual analytics, podcast monitoring, sentiment analysis, it’s a long list - you can pull out all the audience insights you need to share with your prospective sponsor. Give the button below a click, and we’ll set up a free demo with one of our consumer intelligence experts…