Brands should work harder to maximise sponsorship dollars

James McGrath
By James McGrath | 1 June 2015
Source: Ninemsn

While large sporting events such as the State of Origin are still commanding a fair chunk of eyeballs for broadcasters, brands need to work harder to maximise the value of their sponsorship deals by engaging on the second screen.

That's the call from ZenithOptimedia which conducted a survey into how TV watchers were engaging with the game, and the all-important ads in ad breaks.

“The State of Origin (and a couple of other ‘event programs’) are some of the last, large scale advertising opportunities still available, leading to high advertiser competition and even higher price tags,” ZenithOptimedia's insight director Luisa Howard told AdNews.

“This inflated cost of sponsorship is often validated by an assumed ‘quality’ filter, including an expected increase in consumer engagement, attention and receptivity as well as strong social amplification opportunities.”

The media agency talked to 340 footy fans to gauge how they were interacting with content during the big game.

It found that integration is key, with 30% of people skipping some or all of the ad breaks.

Of those who sat through the ads, 21% paid more attention to the ad breaks than they would during regular programming, while 29% paid less attention.

It found that more and more people were heading to social media during the game, making it a key battleground as big game advertisers see more people less engaged with their TV spots.

ZenithOptimedia's chief innovation officer, Aaron Michie, singled out the battle between VB and XXXX in the social media stakes.

“XXXX’s Facebook page was suspiciously quiet in the lead up and during the game, which leads us to believe they decided to put winning more NSW drinkers ahead of supporting their team on the field,” Michie said.

“VB on the other hand, had no such qualms and put in a solid social showing, trouncing XXXX’s zero activity with close to 900 likes, shares and comments – a number that doesn’t capture the reach achieved.”

In a statement, Lion Nathan said it was big in Queensland.

“XXXX has leveraged the sponsorship of the XXXX Maroons across digital channels with a focus on Facebook and eDM. We have been targeted in our communication to engage and deliver value to Queensland and XXXX Maroons fans through the shared passion point of QLD Rugby League in order to maximise ROI," it said.

"XXXX has achieved over 47 000  interactions (likes, shares, comments and post clicks) on Facebook since the launch of the digital campaign on 22 May 2015 via a number of initiatives including video content, exclusive competitions and real-time interactions during Game 1.”

Michie said social media was becoming a key battleground as punters increasingly use the second screen for engagement.

“While properties like the State of Origin are hard to match in scale and audience engagement, they no longer come with the guarantees of successful advertising outcomes they used to,” he said.

“At the same time consumers are becoming more habitual and smarter in avoiding traditional advertising, they are also putting more of their attention into multi-screen experiences, especially social media.”

He said advertisers needed to lift their game in multi screen, socially-driven marketing during the game, but warned brands who normally wouldn't play in the space that jumping on the Origin bandwagon would be a waste of time and energy.

"NIB have put together a great partnership together with the NSW Blues, it didn’t reflect well on their social pages. They changed the structure of the conversation – from being timely, relevant and funny, to patriotic and sporty? The audience didn’t react the same way," Michie said.

"If you have a voice and a personality, just reflect that when you’re trying to be a part of the conversation."

He also said that social integration as part of a broader sponsorship was lacking because there was little support offered from TV networks in the social push.

"Sponsorships are often negotiated based on investment with a TV network, but those networks don’t have the social platforms. This causes social and TV activity to become disjointed, oftern to the detriment of digital/social," Michie said.

The second screen has become a key talking point between brands and networks alike, with all parties working out how to best leverage it.

On TV, the thrilling series opener achieved a five city average of 2.43 million people according to the overnight preliminary estimates from OzTAM, with a national average of 3.64 million.

The series opener was up by 326,000 viewers on the last State of Origin match last year, although that was a dead rubber.
However, the corresponding match last year garnered an average metro and regional audience of 3.98 million, meaning this year's fixture was down roughly 300,000 on a like-for-like basis.

On Twitter, the #stateoforigin match had unique impressions of 5.2 million with a unique audience of 223,000, according to the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings.

*This story has been updated with a statement from Lion Nathan*

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