IEG and Performance Research recently released their 14th annual Research Sponsorship Decision-makers Survey, a state-of-the-mindset report on the buy-side of corporate sponsors.  Looking at the results over the previous years, multiple trends continue to baffle me.  For example:

  • Lack of importance of a 3rd-party valuation report.  In 2013, the ratio of respondents valuing assistance measuring ROI/ROO compared to a valuation report was 2:1.  In 2014, that ratio now exceeds 3:1.  Yet, for some reason, I still hear plenty of buzz about money spent on valuation.
  • Lack of money spent on the buy-side to measure ROI/ROO.  73% of 2014 respondents allocate 1% or less of their partnership budget to measurement, same result as in 2013.  However……
  • It’s NOT lack of interest in ROI/ROO – it’s that they want that information from the property.  In 2014, 73% of respondents say that sell-side properties do not meet their expectations in helping to measure ROI/ROO.

It’s the last bullet point that keeps me scratching my head.  In fact, I’ve been pounding this drum since 2010 when SportsBusiness Journal ran a column of mine on the topic.  From that column:

It seems unfair to expect a property to provide an unbiased assessment regarding the performance of a sponsorship…. Properties tend to have small research budgets, suggesting that the measurement likely would be performed via suboptimal methodology and with an insufficient or inappropriate sample.

I’m always quick to point out that I have seen virtually zero instances in my career where a sell-side property voluntarily offered up information to a corporate partner presenting poor performance metrics.  Why would they?  Why should they?  But let’s not minimize the second point referenced above.  Sell-side properties don’t typically allocate money for sponsorship measurement, and when they do, it’s not a lot.  Methodological choices often rely upon budget, leading sometimes to a square peg/round hole conundrum.

What will drive optimum performance from a sponsorship – allocating a percentage of money to one extra batch of swag, or putting that same percentage toward research that allows partners to optimize the entire next year of the activation?  Think about it when it’s time to allocate.

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