Measuring the ROI of Sports Sponsorships

How logo recognition can help you measure social reach

Before marketing went digital, advertising ROI was notoriously hard to quantify. Now, measuring the ROI of online ads and campaigns is relatively easy. But how are brands measuring offline marketing tactics like sports and event sponsorships?
It’s estimated that global sponsorship spending for 2016 will exceed $60 billion. In North America, 70% of that sponsorship money is spent on sports, which won’t surprise anyone who has been to a stadium or watched a game recently. How are big brands measuring the ROI on that big chunk of change? The sad news is that 33% to 50% of them aren’t able to measure the ROI of those sponsorship dollars (McKinsey).
So how can you determine if you’re getting your brand’s logo in a sports stadium is a good investment? Was it worth it to sponsor that big event? These aren’t easy questions to answer, but new logo recognition and image analysis technology provide new ways to see the value of sponsorships.

Social reach: the missing puzzle piece

Typically, brands track the reach of a high-profile stadium sponsorship by measuring how many people attend the game and how many people watched it on TV. This is missing a huge piece of the puzzle. In today’s socially connected world, it is as (or more) important to track the social media reach of a sponsorship—how many times an image featuring a brand’s logo or ad was shared over social.


People posting about the game on social media and journalists writing about it aren’t going to be directly mentioning the sponsoring brands with text, but they will be posting photos of the heavily branded stadium and uniforms. Logo recognition technology allows you to quantify the number of impressions and exposure that your brand is getting from something like a stadium sponsorship. Otherwise, you have no way to track those visual-only mentions.
For example, the tweet below contains the Dunkin’ Donuts logo, but no text mention of the brand:

Tracking the Dunkin’ Donuts logo in Boston

Anyone who’s been to Boston knows there is no shortage of Dunkin’ Donuts in the city. In addition to having hundreds of locations in the greater Boston area, it makes sense that Dunkin’ would be a big sponsor of Boston-area sports teams. Venues like TD Garden, Fenway Park, and Gillette Stadium always seem to have the Dunkin’ logo in multiple prominent locations, season after season. But how can a brand identify which of these sponsorships are helping them achieve their brand goals?
With text-based social analysis, brands can track mentions associated with games at sponsored stadiums, but like earlier examples, it’s unlikely that sports fans will be specifically mentioning a Dunkin’ with their photos from the game, even if the logo is prominently featured.

With high-profile logo placement, like the scoreboard at Fenway Park, many fans are exposed to the brand, but few are specifically mentioning it. Enter logo recognition, which allows a company like Dunkin’ to analyze how many photos posted to social media contain their sponsorship branding.

Dunkin' Donuts

Optimizing sports sponsorships with image recognition

Image analysis technology opens up a lot of possibilities for optimizing these stadium sponsorships based on data that previously would have been impossible to collect. Logo recognition allows you to measure which sponsorships, in which locations within each stadium, are being photographed the most. The most shared branding is also likely the most valuable as the reach goes far beyond just those in attendance at a game or watching on TV.
The results of such an analysis could allow a brand like Dunkin’ to double down on the most photographed locations for their logo and remove or reduce or remove sponsorship from places that don’t get photographed as often. These insights on the visual reach of sponsorship can allow brands to make better sponsorship decisions to boost brand awareness.
Download our new guide, “The Fundamentals of Image Analytics” to learn how brands can use image analysis technology for business insights:
Fundamentals of Image Analytics

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