Digital Sponsorship Assets won’t cannibalize your “analog”​ assets, they’ll supercharge them

When you’ve made money the same way for years and years, it is of course hard to shift to something new.

A great quote I heard recently on change went something like this:

“In order for change to happen, the pain of the status quote needs to be more than the pain of change.”

The reason I love this quote is we as humans try and stay comfortable until it is massively more painful than what it takes to shift. We as humans are, in the majority, conservative toward new things because we like comfort.

A common fear I hear when bringing up the shift in digital assets in sponsorship is a worry that your current assets will no longer be valuable.

That a digital activation will excite the sponsor so much that in the end, they will lose more money on the assets they’ve always sold like scoreboard reads in the process.

Basically cannibalization of revenue that is a huge part of their bottom line for years and years.

This is not a new storyline in sports. If you’ve ever heard about the story of the slow adoption of the scoreboard, you would see that organizations push back on change.

TL: DR Sports owners worried scoreboards would cut into the revenue of scorecards and were extremely late to adopt (that was dumb).

Overall let’s take a quick step back as what we are as sponsorship…advertisers.

We have a captivated audience in our arenas and stadiums and it is our job to put our sponsors in the best position to succeed in their business goals. That is the value that they are paying us for.

As an advertising product, our biggest competitors are social ads. I did a big post on this in the past but I bring it up again because it is vitally important to see the industry shift. Brands simply are seeing a more trackable and targeted return from Facebook ads than traditional advertising, and that includes sponsorship.

And we are not alone. Newspapers, radio, other ways to advertise with attention in the past are seeing the bleeding too.

The main problem in sports sponsorship is a scoreboard read, in-stadium signage, or paper gameday preview is not as trackable as social ads. We can argue until the cows come home whether it is more influential, but that is like arguing that LeBron is the best of all time without being able to look at the stats.

You will lose every time to social ads if you are pushing scoreboard reads. I see it every day in action while working with teams.

Social ads are a better product than scoreboard reads, or at the very least, they prove their worth through tracking metrics.

Continuing to use only these assets as your starting lineup will lose you games. It’s like lining up the 16 seed team in the NCAA tournament against the Golden State Warriors. Hey, maybe they win right?

(Knocking on wood as March Madness is upon us and this analogy almost surely created bad bracket juju for me)

So how do we salvage this asset? How can we turn the scoreboard into something that can rival social ads for value to brands?

We need to add a digital connection to the asset and package. Something that earns insights and connects fans through their phones. Something that can stand alone on digital, but most importantly how can we supercharge our “old assets” to make them more valuable.

Supercharging “old” assets digitally with Trivia Live

Here’s how we took the request of a big-time sponsor like Toyota and activated them effectively on the phone, scoreboard, and even an in-stadium physical sign.

1. Toyota Trivia Live on the Phone

First let’s look at the goal of Toyota, which was to connect Winterhawks fans with the Toyota brand. In the past while using the scoreboard they would have a read, maybe sponsor an in-between period contest, but the traditional assets you see normally were the things they sponsored.

Toyota was looking for a way to connect with the Winterhawks fans digitally, but still had some of these more traditional assets. When we saw the problem of cannibalizing these assets with something purely digital, Trivia Live immediately came up as a solution.

With Toyota Trivia Live, fans are asked a question each game and can answer on their phones. We ask them for their email so we can send them a prize for the correct answer.

So there, digital offered, problem solved right? Wrong. We still need to incorporate some of the other “analog” assets.

2. Supercharging the Scoreboard

The scoreboard, behind the ice (live game) and the phone, is the central attention center for fans. Ring digital boards are great… but the scoreboard is where the attention is drawn throughout the game.

We took Trivia Live that you play on the phone and added a scoreboard asset where fans could see the results of the votes on the big screen. It’s a website that updates actively on the scoreboard so the results are live for fans to see.

Video example below:

Here’s why this works:

  • If you aren’t playing, you still see the question as a fan and are intrigued by where the answers are falling. It’s way more dynamic than just a scoreboard read to grab attention that gets the reach you need for the “awareness” piece.
  • If you are playing you are fully engaged with the brand while the team is earning insights (email) on the fans.

This tag-team of phones synced with the scoreboard has taken your “old” scoreboard asset and supercharged it into a dynamic, digital, attention-getting activation in your arena.

All of a sudden your scoreboard as an advertising asset is attractive again to a sponsor looking for digital. In addition, you have just added more value to your scoreboard asset.

3. Bring Value and Attraction to The Toyota Corner

As fans play on the phone and watch on the scoreboard they have to be able to win something right? Well, this is where you activate the in-stadium signage or area into the fold.

The Winterhawks have a great space that is sponsored by Toyota called the Toyota corner. The corner is right on the ice for an amazing game-day experience with a huge Toyota banner on the side.

This has been great for hospitality but again misses the boat for trackable return.

When fans play and win Toyota Trivia Live, they enter into a chance to watch a game in the Toyota Corner.

This is a HUGE win for the fans. Whether a new fan or old, the experience is unique. Right next to the players as they come out onto the ice.

The Toyota Corner is now a valuable asset in closing the fan loop here. Without this area, the drive to engage & win on Toyota Trivia Live is lower by fans.

Toyota Trivia Live has now given major purpose to the corner.

It is a place Toyota can engage with fans on a personal level by sending their dealers out to mingle with the fans and enjoy the game

BONUS: Every fan who is in the corner has an email in the system. What an amazing way to follow up easily and authentically with interested buyers for Toyota after a great experience.

So let’s keep track of how a digital activation like Trivia Live has supercharged other assets:

  1. On the phone, it has made the app more valuable as you can play through the app.
  2. On the scoreboard, it has made the asset more valuable with the ability to play along and see results even if you aren’t playing for reach.
  3. In the corner for a branded experience with the ability to win a game in the Toyota corner.
  4. You’ve captured the emails of everyone playing so you can authentically follow up.

PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT: In the span of maybe a month, Toyota has had 3 unique touchpoints with the fan that are authentic. They haven’t felt like advertising at all through the process.

EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THAN THAT: All of those fans can be re-targeted for more promotions because we have earned their email. Value beyond game day.

BONUS: Toyota Trivia Live is played on away games through the radio broadcast. Talk about supercharging an asset that many say is dead.

So when I hear the fear that digital will cannibalize your “analog” assets I see a misunderstanding of attention.

The question isn’t how can we push the scoreboard to a sponsor, the question is how do we fit the scoreboard into today’s digital attention?

The answer is when looking at ways to engage fans digitally, make sure you see how your other assets can fuse into the experience and how digital can maximize your other assets.

Do not fear digital, adapt digitally to fit your stadium, assets, and strengths.

The teams that do this will win in the history of sports sponsorships. The teams that don’t will lose. I see it as that cut and dry.

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