Two conversations last week with marketers that recently signed major sports sponsorships give hope that more brands are becoming proactive investors in partnerships rather than mere buyers of sponsorship assets and inventory.
Both companies are new to sports marketing and are not just dipping their toes in the water. Each has jumped in with a multi-year deal worth well into the eight figures.
But beyond the spend, what may be most impressive, and enlightening, about these sponsorships is that each—despite their size—took less than 60 days to close from initial conversation to contract signing.
As anyone who’s been involved in sponsorship negotiations knows, that’s lightning speed in our business. It is not unusual for agreements of that magnitude to take anywhere from three months to a year for discussions and negotiations to reach a conclusion.
Why were these deals able to come together so quickly? It’s primarily due to the fact that these companies established up front the reasons why sponsorship would work for them, identified geographic parameters, determined which sports would align with their target audience, developed activation ideas and secured senior leadership approval and budget before seeking out properties that fit their needs.
Contrast that to a typical process that entails a property representative reaching out with an opportunity followed by the back-and-forth of getting the right information to the right people, the internal sales job and attempts to identify sources of funding before even initial negotiations can begin. In that scenario a six-month timeframe seems like a bargain.
Two examples does not a trend make, but as a growing number of marketers recognize that sponsorship success requires a strategic framework for acquisition as well as execution—and as more tools and resources make actionable insights available to them to make data-driven decisions—informed investors will soon outnumber reactive buyers.
Speaking of helpful intel, the myriad reports that annually hit our collective in-boxes the week following the Super Bowl usually contain only mildly useful information such as ad performance and brand exposure estimates. But a report from ecommerce analytics company Profitero raises an important issue for any marketer with a high-profile presence at major events.
The study looks at online “interceptions” of Super Bowl LVI advertisers by competitors. The practice, commonly known as “conquesting,” entails buying sponsored search results for key terms related to any brand. It allows competitors to ambush any big moment—a Super Bowl ad, a major sponsorship position with a marquee event, etc.–that is likely to drive consumers online to find out more information or purchase products.
Profitero tracked ads on product pages and search results on Amazon, Instacart and Walmart during the Super Bowl last week and identified 6,548 instances of a competitor placing an ad on Super Bowl advertisers’ product pages, or buying ads based on search keywords related to those advertisers on the three sites.
The report is a wake-up call to any sponsor who aims to drive consumers online through its presence and activations. As Profitero CMO Mike Black said in Marketing Daily: “If you’re advertising…but not thinking about how you show up at the point of conversion—which is a retailer site—you’re not going to get the most efficient ROI. And you’re going to leave a lot of room for competitors to steal all that good work you’re doing elsewhere.”
Proftero’s president, Sarah Hofstetter, contributed a piece to Forbes last week that echoed Black’s comments and added the following insight as to why brands need to be thinking defensively:
“Conquesting is not new. Brands have been conquesting other brands on Google for well over a decade. But with more consumers beginning their shopper journey on retailer sites like Amazon, conquesting is becoming a much higher stake game for brands for two reasons. First, retailer sites like Amazon, Walmart and Instacart are much lower in the funnel and the risk of being conquested most immediately translates into lost sales. Second, many retailer sites are designed to remember your purchase history and recommend past products you have ordered for the next time you buy. So losing sales to a competitor the first time from conquesting may mean you never get a chance to win that consumer back again.”
B2C sponsors already have plenty on their plate when planning how activate and leverage their partnerships, but they will need to make room for thinking about how to protect against interceptions like the off-field ones at the Super Bowl.