Words I heard today…”​In-Stadium Signage is the Sexy Equivalent to a Highway Billboard Ad”​

I sit here today contemplating a recent comment by a brand on their thoughts to in-stadium signage…..

“An in-stadium sign….when you think about it…is a sexy highway billboard ad…and as a brand, we don’t get excited about that.”

Even in my digital biased head, I’m thinking… WHAT? NO. There is so much more value for in-stadium, in that atmosphere, the influence. But they made some great points…..

  1. Not trackable- Does it sell products…..probably…do we know?…no
  2. No brand is getting excited for a billboard ad campaign when they can spend on trackable FB ads that show purchases and where they came from

So I brought up influence, it’s gotta be more influential being in a ballpark…right?

NOPE….while he said it did help, who knows…because it isn’t easily trackable.

One thing I have found with brands that may be higher than value is EASE. If something is hard & valuable VS. easy and a bit less valuable… the easy option will win.

Then he hit me with the knock-out point…

He brought up how he could simply

  • Geo-target the arena,
  • Target fans of the team,
  • And target fans of the players…
  • Run Facebook, Instagram, & Snapchat ads
  • pay half the price in ad spend…
  • and if it didn’t work he could simply pivot the campaign to not be locked into a year-long deal on a sign

I sat there looking for that rebuttal.. and of course, there are:

  • You can’t use the team logo to leverage our influence without buying,
  • Nothing matches how ingrained the attention is to our stadium,
  • Sponsoring us will build loyalty unlike you will see doing what you plan to do on social

But in reality…he was totally correct. At the low CPC of $0.30 on FB & Insta…where by the way, you only pay for the click… the targeting of a stadium during the game would probably have a greater impact than an in-stadium sign at 1/10th of the cost…

And more importantly, they could easily link directly to sales.

Because during the breaks in your game…your fan’s attention is glued to their phone…as with most downtimes in modern tech life.

This is massively scary to where we are in sponsorship

I’m the guy who helps teams combat this…and this perspective scared me…because it shows that essentially, brands don’t need us to reach our fans.

After my talk here I had to test this out. I asked a season ticket holder friend, can you name three brand signs at your sports arena?

It was rough…

He could name the arena name sponsor…but none of the scoreboard, rink board, or 200 level sponsors. As an ex-sponsorship sales guy…this is frightening. Are we selling snake oil now?

But it makes sense. Just like for Google banner ads, we have come to the point where we block those out until there is something new. Jersey sponsors are new in the NBA. My recall there is clutch, I can remember them. It isn’t though on MLS jerseys. It’s because my brain has made the front of the jersey a categorized ad.

This all comes back to our attention for the recall is on one thing, the phone. I CAN name the last 3 Instagram ads I saw. And this is a HUGE problem for us who sell these “analog” assets.

What this comes down to is a concept that Gary Vaynerchuk brought up recently for why social ads are better. He explains that social media ads have sales & marketing built into one.

You see the branding and can recall better than a sign, but you also are one click away from making the purchase with a social ad.

An in-stadium sign, rink board, or even broadcast commercial does not have this sales piece built-in, you are almost throwing up a hail mary for whether it gets sales.

As sponsorship salespeople, we are throwing a hail mary up that it will get you sales and we will be able to prove it leads to sales.

This goes back to WHY social ads are your biggest competition for selling sponsorship assets. They are a better product because they can get sales as well as market all in one process.

And the data supports this. Brands are simply spending more on digital ads than traditional because of this Sales & Marketing duo. As made clear from eMarketer:

Total digital ad spending in the US will grow 19% to $129.34 billion this year — 54.2% of estimated total US ad spending. And mobile will continue its dominance, accounting for more than two-thirds of digital ad spending, at $87.06 billion this year.

54% of ad spend THIS YEAR will go to digital. And eMarketer projects it will hit 2/3 of all ad spend by 2023.

Hello scary trend we can’t ignore any longer…

When there is a better product, it will dominate the market. Different market forces may slow this process down… but it will ultimately win. We are seeing it happen now with digital ads and the stadium signage we push.

What this means for our in-stadium signs….you will sell less. But it is important to understand why.

The why is simply that in-stadium signage, as with highway billboards, has only the marketing side with none of the trackable sales side.

The solution comes in finding ways to add the sales side into our assets. An easy trackable addition to maximizing the attention that it does get.

Let’s push this a step further.

Adding digital activations to tie in with the scoreboard…now you have a trackable asset (login with email) that you can retarget with influence on social ads.

All of a sudden the thing you were rethinking is the core of its meaning because brands aren’t about it any longer….that asset is so much more attractive to a sponsor.

The new signage needs to be trackable…or brands will literally hijack your fan base and pay Facebook for it…not you.

News for today…they are already thinking about it.

This conversation made me realize we are not at DEFCON 5 on this… it’s full-blown DEFCON 1…get strapped in and ready for a huge shift if you don’t have the assets to rival these items.

At SQWAD we help give you some trackable digital assets to help change this narrative and supercharge your “analog” assets. Check us out if you’re already seeing brands jump ship for Facebook ads.



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