||Old Habits Do Die: Sponsor Survey Sees Less Reliance on Ads, Signage
While They Embrace Ways to Engage Better, Sponsors Still Come Up Short on Measurement
The 12th annual IEG/Performance Research Sponsorship Decision-makers Survey indicates that sponsors are letting go of some of the more traditional and less engaging ways to communicate and evaluate their partnerships.
In terms of activation, traditional advertising was used far less as a leveraging tool than in any previous year. Although 72 percent of sponsors still buy media to activate, that figure is a long way from the high of 86 percent in 2005.
The survey added social media as an activation channel this year and not surprisingly it appears as one of the five most popular leveraging tools, alongside public relations, internal communications, advertising and hospitality.
Hospitality was significantly more popular this year (75 percent of sponsors using it vs. 63 percent last year), pointing to its resurgence after falling out of favor during the recession, especially among financial services companies.
Another old standby that fell somewhat out of favor this year was on-site signage. Just over half of respondents said it was a highly valuable benefit (giving it a score of 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale) compared to 63 percent in 2011.
Another exposure-related benefit -- identification in the property’s media buy -- fell out of the top 10 benefits this year, replaced by the right to promote co-branded products and services. Category exclusivity remained the most valuable sponsorship benefit.
Also, generating awareness is no longer alone at the top in terms of how sponsors are evaluating success. Two other measures -- attitudes toward the brand and sales -- moved into a virtual tie for the top spot among most valuable metrics.
Also of note, measuring televised logo exposure fell out of the top ten metrics, replaced by the response of trade/channel partners.
Finally, when assessing the importance of various objectives, increasing brand loyalty joined creating awareness and visibility as the top goals of sponsors.
When asked about their 2012 plans, sponsors demonstrated the cautious attitude noted in IEG's projections of slowed spending growth this year.
Although still a majority, the number of sponsors who said they were considering new sponsorships in 2012 dropped six percentage points from 2011.
Similarly, the number of decision-makers who indicated they were looking to drop current deals not up for renewal rose six percentage points from last year, although remained in the minority.
Responses about the direction of 2012 spending were nearly identical to 2011's, with just about half of sponsors holding budgets steady, while 36 percent will spend more and 17 percent plan to spend less.
Overall, spending on sponsorship fees -- not including activation -- will account for a smaller portion of total advertising, marketing and promotion budgets than last year -- 17 percent versus 19 percent.
When asked specifically about activation spending, about half of sponsors said they would shell out the same for leveraging this year as last, while 42 percent will allocate more money and 11 percent will lay out fewer dollars. The average ratio comparing activation spending to the amount spent to acquire sponsorship rights rose for the third year in a row to $1.70 on leveraging for every $1 spent on rights fees. In 2011, the comparison was $1.60 to $1. Despite other signs that sponsors are growing savvier about sponsorship, the survey reveals that more than one out of five still spend nothing on activating their partnerships.
More sponsors than ever indicated that their return from sponsorship was growing, with nearly six out of 10 seeing better results over the past few years, while just five percent saw a decline in their return. Another one out of five sponsors reported they had not determined whether their return was improving or not. That's despite the vast majority of sponsors who say the need for meaningful results continues to grow.
Continuing a long-term pattern of wanting better measurement but not allocating resources for it, this year's survey found nearly one-third of sponsors allocating no money to measure the success of a given partnership, while another 44 percent spent an amount equal to one percent or less of the sponsorship fee to evaluate their return.
As for how properties can best service their partners beyond delivering the rights and benefits committed to, sponsors placed more value on property-provided research into audiences' attitudes toward and images of sponsors, as well as research on the audiences' propensity to purchase sponsor products.
For more information, including charts and graphs:
IEG Sponsor Survey
(Source: IEG Sponsorship Report, 03/19/12)
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