F1 and the NFL Need to Embrace the Growing Opportunities of Sports Sponsorship

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Even in the age of social media and instant connection between sports stars and their fans, some rights holders could do more when it comes to realising the true value from fans sharing and engaging with content online.

Rights holders like F1 have had notoriously strict rules around social media. Filming of any sort was banned inside the paddock for anyone other than broadcasters with a TV deal, as Lewis Hamilton recently discovered. Despite having 4.2 million followers on Instagram, he was told to remove video contenthe had posted on the social network.

Similarly, the NFL has been known for its strict regulations around sharing content on social media. They have since dialed back on their social media policies that effectively banned the sharing of any highlights during games. Now teams can post “non-highlight” video during games, but still can’t share actual footage from a game.

Rights holders, like F1 and the NFL, should instead look to embrace this critical aspect of social media. If they don’t make these changes soon, they could potentially be losing out on revenue as control over content shifts towards the audience rather than the organisers.

The changing face of sports content

The way audiences consume sports content has changed. No longer do audiences spend hours consuming broadcast footage, but rather opt for bite-sized content they can get through a connected device like their phone or tablet. As a result, sports fans are watching video highlights at increasing levels via social media or streaming. Even these social platforms like Instagram, and Facebook are updating their feed algorithms to provide highly relevant recommended content, like sports highlights.

Social media value is starting to rival broadcast when it comes to driving reach and engagement for stadium signage. Visual-based social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are driving tremendous media value for brands.

Traditionally, rights holders develop stadium signage pricing that is measured by the TV media value alone, without accounting for social media.  Therefore, most signage is undervalued and underpriced. Some rights holders have started analyzing their own social media accounts for sponsor value, but are missing the exposures that come from other publications, fans, or highlights accounts. Tracking exposure outside owned properties is almost impossible without a technology based solution, because posts that contain sponsor value rarely have a hashtag or other textual mentions of the sponsor, making it virtually impossible to track.

Technology can ensure that the value of image and video content is comprehensively understood, and consistently measured. To analyse images and videos at scale requires a type of technology called computer vision – the visual arm of AI. This automatically identifies what is inside pictures and videos, versus relying on text-only search for a brand, such as relevant hashtags, and replaces the manual-based solutions that are widely used in the industry.

At GumGum Sports, we have been working with some of the leading global sporting entities to apply this technology-based solution to the measurement and valuation of their sponsorship deals. We use computer vision to scan videos and images on social media, TV broadcast and streaming that relate to the sponsors of various sports teams and leagues. We then score the quality of each exposure based on six variables (clarity, prominence, visibility, size, placement and share of voice) and determine the media value that the rights holder has generated or that the sponsor is receiving.

We are able to uncover significantly more value for sponsoring brands from the visible signage across TV and social than what has previously been available with non-technology based solutions. Advances in technology have created the next evolution of sponsorship valuation. This data enables teams to enhance their partner fulfilment reports, and justify higher rate cards, hence the increased revenue opportunities. For brands, it enhances the understanding of true value received from sponsorships and allows for more direct decision making processes during the pre- and post-evaluation period, allowing them to effectively purchase sponsor placements.

Rights holders that fail to incorporate social media value will be pricing themselves on less than 50% of the overall media value, and will lose out on an entirely new revenue stream. Technology is now proving that the impact it can have is far bigger than they initially thought. If Lewis Hamilton’s video hadn’t been pulled from being shared amongst his 4.2 million followers, then it could have been shared and viewed hundreds of thousands of times, resulting in significant social media value for the team. Computer vision is now showing the enormous opportunity that F1 and the NFL have in front of them.

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