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In April 2016 Think!Sponsorship conducted an industry poll that sort to find out how the industry was using sponsorship to tackle increasingly complex marketing objectives.

We asked respondents to comment on which assets were being used most by sponsors, what types of objectives were most frequently addressed through sponsorship and where most creativity was being seen.

Fastest growing investment sectors in terms of volume of deals were gambling (41.5%) followed by airlines on 33.8%. Other notable sectors included financial services (27.6%) traditionally the biggest investor in sponsorship and automotive (26.1%). Sports clothing, consumer electronics and telecoms also featured strongly.

Engagement came out top as the sponsorship asset garnering most interest followed by brand awareness and preference, data collection and customer intelligence. Hospitality ranked at 12% and, of the six choices available, was placed in last spot by 39% of respondents.

Brand awareness was generally considered as the most important reason for sponsoring when the

70% of respondents believed that sponsorship is becoming more integrated into the central marketing mix with only 18.5% disagreeing.

In terms of which sectors are considered most creative, telecoms (24%) and alcohol (21%) came out on top. Telecoms arguably has a built in advantage in that it is the delivery vehicle for so much of the communication and, almost by default, companies in this sector have expertise in using electronic media.

When asked which objectives the respondents had evaluated in the past two years, brand awareness still comes out on top with 82% citing this metric. Digital engagement, which can be analysed at a basic level at very low cost, also features highly at 74.6%. Commercial opportunities/leads generated scores at 62.6%, which suggests that many respondents are using sponsorship to deliver tangible sales-related objectives. Indeed, direct sales measurement is shown to have been measured by 32% of those polled. The interesting finding here is that for many years it has been argued that it has been almost impossible to measure the impact of sponsorship on sales. Sponsorship was considered as long-term, taking place at a time of other tactical and strategic marketing initiatives and impossible to isolate. The change here is likely to be a result of new and more sophisticated research techniques as well as the growing use of tactical activations designed to have an impact on sales.

Despite this, the industry is still not convinced that it has robust tools for measurement beyond brand exposure/awareness with only 30% saying that it does and 64% saying it doesn’t. This challenge, which has been hanging over the industry for years, is still clearly a major issue.

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