The rise of digital vs. traditional media is reflected in IEG’s most recent survey of sponsors.

Beginning with the value of various benefits, respondents to the 15th annual IEG Sponsorship Decision-makers Survey ranked digitally related assets higher than ever, while broadcast and traditional advertising elements held less appeal.

Presence on and in a property’s digital, social and mobile media, which did not appear in the top ten benefits in the 2014 survey, tied for second with on-site signage in 2015. Forty-six percent of respondents ranked those benefits as a 9 or a 10 on a 10-point scale of value, placing them behind only category exclusivity, the perennial number-one.

HOW VALUABLE ARE THE FOLLOWING BENEFITS TO YOU?
HOW VALUABLE ARE THE FOLLOWING BENEFITS TO YOU?
Percent of respondents who ranked the factor a 9 or a 10 on a 10-point scale, where 10 is extremely valuable
Source: IEG/ESP Properties 2015 Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey

Access to property content for digital and other uses also rose in importance, ranked highly by 39 percent of sponsors—good for fifth place—while broadcast advertising opportunities were highly valued by only 29 percent of sponsors, compared to 42 percent in the 2014 survey.

Digital’s advance also was reflected in the marketing communications channels used to activate sponsorship, where traditional advertising buys—which long topped the list—slipped behind digital and mobile promotions for the first time ever, ranking seventh this year.

WHAT CHANNELS DO YOU USE TO LEVERAGE YOUR SPONSORSHIPS?
WHAT CHANNELS DO YOU USE TO LEVERAGE YOUR SPONSORSHIPS?
Source: IEG/ESP Properties 2015 Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey

Property-Provided Services Increase In Importance

The majority of sponsors said properties’ assistance in measuring return and providing fulfillment/recap reports were extremely valuable to them, with the number who scored fulfillment reports highly jumping from 32 percent in 2014 to 52 percent in 2015.

HOW VALUABLE ARE THE FOLLOWING PROPERTY-PROVIDED SERVICES?
HOW VALUABLE ARE THE FOLLOWING PROPERTY-PROVIDED SERVICES?
Percent of respondents who ranked the factor a 9 or a 10 on a 10-point scale, where 10 is extremely valuable
Source: IEG/ESP Properties 2015 Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey

In addition, significantly more sponsors this year saw value in properties providing access to CRM and other audience data, as well as tracking and reporting on promotional offers conducted through the property, such as ticket discount offers, gate redemptions, etc.

And while there was improvement in how sponsors judged their partners’ ability to provide the top-ranked service, still nearly two-thirds felt that rightsholders fell short in meeting their needs.

DO PROPERTIES MEET YOUR EXPECTATIONS IN HELPING YOU MEASURE YOUR RETURN ON INVESTMENT/OBJECTIVES?
DO PROPERTIES MEET YOUR EXPECTATIONS IN HELPING YOU MEASURE YOUR RETURN ON INVESTMENT/OBJECTIVES?
Source: IEG/ESP Properties 2015 Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey

Nearly One In Five Sponsors Can’t Say How ROI Is Tracking

Sponsors may be turning to properties for help with measurement because they are not doing a good job at evaluating return on their own. When asked how their ROI from sponsorship was tracking over the last few years, 19 percent of corporate marketers said they did not know, up from 15 percent in 2014.

HAS YOUR ROI INCREASED, DECREASED OR STAYED THE SAME?
HAS YOUR ROI INCREASED, DECREASED OR STAYED THE SAME?
Source: IEG/ESP Properties 2015 Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey

Sponsors continued to allocate little to no money for evaluating sponsorship performance—with nearly three-fourths spending one percent or less of a sponsorship’s budget on measurement.

WHAT PERCENTAGE OF A SPONSORSHIP’S BUDGET IS SPENT ON MEASURING RETURN?
HAT PERCENTAGE OF A SPONSORSHIP’S BUDGET IS SPENT ON MEASURING RETURN?
Source: IEG/ESP Properties 2015 Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey

Regarding performance measures most important to sponsors, top-of-the-purchase-funnel metrics such as attitudes toward and awareness of the sponsoring brand or company continue to be ranked as more highly valuable than tracking behaviors directly or more closely related to sales.

HOW VALUABLE ARE THESE METRICS IN EVALUATING SPONSORSHIPS?
HOW VALUABLE ARE THESE METRICS IN EVALUATING SPONSORSHIPS?
Percent of respondents who ranked the factor a 4 or a 5 on a 5-point scale, where 5 is extremely valuable
Source: IEG/ESP Properties 2015 Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey

Spending Levels To Hold Steady

Just 28 percent of sponsors say their spending will increase in 2016, with 23 percent cutting spending and 49 percent maintaining budgets at 2015 levels.

HOW WILL YOUR 2016 SPONSORSHIP SPENDING COMPARE TO 2015?
HOW WILL YOUR 2016 SPONSORSHIP SPENDING COMPARE TO 2015?
Source: IEG/ESP Properties 2015 Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey

As has been the trend in recent years, more sponsors are willing to increase spending on activation than on rights fees. Nearly four in ten sponsors will grow their leveraging budgets in 2016, while 51 percent are keeping spending on par with 2015. Only 12 percent will lessen their activation dollars.

HOW WILL YOUR 2016 LEVERAGING AND ACTIVATION SPENDING COMPARE TO 2015?
HOW WILL YOUR 2016 LEVERAGING AND ACTIVATION SPENDING COMPARE TO 2015?
Source: IEG/ESP Properties 2015 Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey

The number of sponsors seeking to add partnerships rebounded in this year’s survey, with seven out of ten saying they are in the market for new deals, compared to just 63 percent in the 2014 survey. That number remains lower than two years ago, however, when 75 percent of sponsors said they were considering first-time deals.

IS YOUR COMPANY CONSIDERING NEW SPONSORSHIPS IN 2016?
IS YOUR COMPANY CONSIDERING NEW SPONSORSHIPS IN 2016?
Source: IEG/ESP Properties 2015 Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey

Survey respondents allocated an average of 18 percent of their overall marketing/advertising/promotion budgets to sponsorship, a decline of five percentage points from 2014. While the average has fluctuated between 16 percent and 25 percent over the 15 years of the survey, this year’s decline is most likely due to an increased share of budgets going to digital marketing.

WHAT PORTION OF YOUR MARKETING BUDGET IS SPENT ON SPONSORSHIP RIGHTS FEES?
WHAT PORTION OF YOUR MARKETING BUDGET IS SPENT ON SPONSORSHIP RIGHTS FEES?
Source: IEG/ESP Properties 2015 Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey

Sponsors report spending an average of $1.80 on activation for every $1 spent on rights fees this year, up from $1.70 in 2014.

WHAT IS YOUR COMPANY’S TYPICAL PROMOTIONAL SPENDING RATIO?
WHAT IS YOUR COMPANY'S TYPICAL PROMOTIONAL SPENDING RATIO?
Source: IEG/ESP Properties 2015 Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey

Sponsors also reported being more satisfied with their current partners—to the extent they are not seeking an early exit from their agreements. In 2014, 57 percent said they were looking to drop out of current deals, but that number dropped ten percentage points in this year’s survey. However, the 47 percent figure remains higher than the 41 percent of sponsors who wanted out of certain sponsorships two years ago.

IS YOUR COMPANY SEEKING TO DROP OUT OF ANY CURRENT SPONSORSHIPS?
IS YOUR COMPANY SEEKING TO DROP OUT OF ANY CURRENT SPONSORSHIPS?
Source: IEG/ESP Properties 2015 Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey

In terms of the most important objectives, there was little movement among the top ten, with the somewhat surprising exception of “showcase community/social responsibility” dropping completely off the list, after having been as high as fourth just two years ago. In 2013, 51 percent of sponsors said that objective was a 9 or a 10 in importance; in 2015, the number dropped to just 21 percent.

The objective “capture database/lead generation” replaced “showcase community/social responsibility” on this year’s top ten list.

HOW IMPORTANT ARE THESE OBJECTIVES WHEN EVALUATING PROPERTIES?
HOW IMPORTANT ARE THESE OBJECTIVES WHEN EVALUATING PROPERTIES?
Percent of respondents who ranked the factor a 9 or a 10 on a 10-point scale, where 10 is extremely important
Source: IEG/ESP Properties 2015 Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey

Regarding agency support, the number of sponsors who said they managed execution and activation completely in house jumped to 40 percent after reaching an all-time low of 22 percent in 2014.

WHICH TYPES OF AGENCIES DO YOU USE TO SUPPORT YOUR SPONSORSHIPS?
WHICH TYPES OF AGENCIES DO YOU USE TO SUPPORT YOUR SPONSORSHIPS?
Source: IEG/ESP Properties 2015 Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey

WHEN DOES YOUR COMPANY DETERMINE ITS SPONSORSHIP BUDGET?
WHEN DOES YOUR COMPANY DETERMINE ITS SPONSORSHIP BUDGET?
Source: IEG/ESP Properties 2015 Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey

The survey was conducted online earlier this month and received 100 responses.