During a recent roundtable discussion by several large marketers who considered the future of sports sponsorship, one detail became clear: sports sponsorship will remain a key component of the broader marketing effort of 376573_ou_football_-_go_soonersmany firms. What is less clear is how these programs will change as a result of the recession.

Several participants remarked that the focus on ROI (return on investment), which is being applied heavily to traditional and online campaigns, is being mentioned more and more frequently in the sports sponsorship arena. Bill Glenn (The Marketing Arm) noted, “[m]easurement has moved well beyond awareness and our clients are looking at purchase consideration, purchase intent, purchase and use,” with respect to consumers.  However, ROI measurement varies widely by type of sports sponsorship and industry. The difficulty of accurately measuring ROI in sports sponsorship lead 72% of surveyed executives to say that it is not possible to build consensus around a standard formula.However, participants also suggested that marketers will be looking intently at their expenditures and will develop their own metrics.

Meanwhile, the recession has definitely impacted key players in the sports sponsorship universe. Companies that recently decreased their TV advertising during sports events include AT&T Mobility, Toyota and Chevrolet.  And as sports properties search for new sponsors they should keep in mind that nearly 2/3’s of industry professionals believe financial services will bounce back the fastest while 20% predicted automotive will come back most quickly with sponsorship dollars. Regardless of who steps forward to fund a property, sports teams and representatives must be prepared to show flexibility and a willingness to develop metrics that make sense.

[Source: Changes made, changes to come, Sports Business Journal, 9.28.09]