I was very surprised to read an article on the Media Week website outlining a new Mediacom product providing sponsorship media evaluation, it went on to ask whether sponsorship should be measured in this way (www.mediaweek.co.uk/article/1283310/sponsorship-measured-media). My assumption, wrongly, was that the sponsorship industry had grown up and moved away from this very primitive form of evaluation. However it would seem that there are those who still use it as a measurement tool.
Sponsorship is an incredibly flexible medium, it can deliver against a variety of metrics depending on the brand’s objectives, maturity, market position, budget etc. As a result there is no one uniform measurement, it is totally dependent on what a brand sets out to achieve. However, as with any other assessment of a business activity, sponsorship should be measured against how ultimately it can impact the bottom line. Brands who solely measure media values for their sponsorship can only prove the media efficiency and not the impact on consumer measures or sales. Achieving a sponsorship media evaluation of £5m, for example, does not necessarily mean that there is any benefit to your brand. The only measurements that matter are brand metrics and, ultimately, sales.
If one applied this evaluation to a traditional advertising campaign one can prove how flawed it is. Once a TVC is created media space is purchase and it is then screened. At the end of the campaign, depending on the initial objectives, its success can be measured in a number of ways including awareness, consideration and usage. Marketers do not look at the amount of media space purchased or number of eyeballs watching to judge its success or failure. This would provide no insight whatsoever apart from assessing the effectiveness of their media buying agency.
Historically, media value evaluations were applied to sponsorship measurement in order to bring it into line with the PR industry. The purpose of this blog is not judge the rights or wrongs of PR evaluation, however trying to align these two marketing disciplines is fundamentally flawed. In very basic terms, the primary principle of PR is to earn media space whereas with a sponsorship the media is purchased. As the fundamentals of these two disciplines are so different, their evaluation models must also reflect this.
The only way that media evaluations can be used in sponsorship is for very simplistic comparative purposes. A brand’s sponsorship can be compared from one event to the next to ascertain if the branding positions have improved. If the sponsorship is stadium based, where there are a defined number of fixed camera and branding positions, media values shouldn’t change significantly. If however the event is in a more open landscape (e.g. a golf course) media evaluations may be able to provide an indication of how to improve the brand’s exposure. However in this instance, monetising this value is very misleading, it should only be used as a comparative number not a financial value.
I can only surmise that the tool created by Mediacom is being targeted for rights holders who are desperately trying to justify overly inflated right fees to potential sponsors who have very little experience in this area. However as rights fees continue to rise, making the discipline far more accountable, there will be increasing scrutiny and robust evaluation in order to justify the investments. Hopefully this will dismiss the traditional sponsorship media evaluation forever.