Can sponsorship measure up?

There's certainly an issue over measurement, as the survey showed that validation is patchy to say the least. When asked if they measure all or most of their sponsorship and event marketing activities only 68% of respondents said yes. The other 32% measure half or even less. Yet 70% agreed that it's more important than ever and 73% of respondents wanted their sponsorship and event partners to help them monitor their results.

Sponsorship and event marketing are seen as increasingly important components of the marketing communications mix. The IEG – a leading industry body – believes that growth in the sector is now out-stripping growth in traditional advertising. According to their figures, sponsorship spending is expected to grow 5.3 per cent in 2013 and event marketing by 4.7 per cent. 

Most respondents to the ANA study claim to have a dedicated sponsorship and/or event marketing measurement budget in place. Whilst still not a major budget item, it has more than doubled its share of the sponsorship/event cake, averaging 5% of spend as against just 2.3% in 2010.

Yet the survey also showed that that disappointingly few companies are truly happy with the arrangements in place for measuring Return on Investment (ROI) and Return on Objective (ROO). 

Why is dissatisfaction so widespread? Part of the answer is that fewer than half of marketers have a standardised process for measuring sponsorship and event marketing, meaning that they are not able to compare like with like. Just half attempt to separate out the impact of these activities and at least a quarter don’t measure these activities at all. 

Even when measurement takes place, I'm not sure it's looking in the right direction. The top metrics used are media exposure and social media (joint first in the list) and brand awareness, in my view a fairly limited set of measurements. 

Quantitative measurement surely needs to be supported by qualitative surveys. In other words, if you want to know if a sponsorship activity made someone more likely to buy (or keep buying) your product, you need to ask them. Sponsorship is about association, changing opinions and engaging with customers.  I’m not saying the numbers aren’t important, but I do believe that measuring qualitative factors such as perception, association and value are as important when determining return on investment. 

*Association of National Advertisers: Research Report: 2013 ANA Sponsorship and Event Marketing Measurement Survey, 2nd Edition

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