What trends should sponsorship pros watch for in 2015, and what kind of impact will they have on the sponsorship landscape?

Below, sponsorship execs from PepsiCo, Nationwide Insurance, Volkswagen, SAP and UPS share trends in 2015 and beyond.  

Jennifer Storms, senior vice president, global sports marketing, PepsiCo
Virtual reality, 3D printing

The second screen experience continues to rise in importance, which will continue to lead sponsors to broaden their thinking around marketing and consumer engagement to ensure the right mix across channels.  

Virtual reality technology allows brands and properties to offer unique engagement opportunities to fans. For example, Mountain Dew created a virtual reality skate experience that let fans become part of the Dew Skate Team and feel as if they were riding alongside legendary pro Paul Rodriguez through iconic spots in Las Vegas.  

3D printing allows brands and properties the ability to produce items with a high level of accuracy and in less time compared to typical production. These items can include anything from merchandise/premiums to stadium seats. 

Rich Foster, vice president of enterprise brand marketing, Nationwide Insurance
Unique, compelling content

While not a new technology, unlocking the full power of content across paid, earned and owned media continues to be an enormous source of value for brands, including Nationwide.

In a low involvement category, Nationwide has been able to utilize sports content to engage fans in ways it has never done before. In 2014 Nationwide expanded relationships with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Peyton Manning. Those two announcements were the largest social media days in the history of the company.

Nationwide’s first television spot with Peyton Manning ("Jingle") generated more than 25 million earned impressions in social media, as tracked through in-house social media listening technology.

Brands will continue to invest in content and premium digital media, as well as paid, owned and earned media through social.  In addition, brands will continue to invest in efforts that amplify national media/advertising and engage fans in new and unique ways.

Clark Campbell, general manager, experiential marketing, Volkswagen Group of America
More focus on paid social

The content generation needed to support social media metrics is the single largest change, and with new policies from Facebook and others, sponsorship dollars for traditional “hang your logo here” type activations will decrease as brands will need to move dollars to paid social support. The metrics can be tracked better, and the returns are better.

Chris Burton, group vice president, SAP global sponsorships
Connected devices, big data and loyalty programs

The rise of the Internet of Things and connected devices (sensors, spacial cameras, fitness trackers, etc.) will change and simplify the way we live, work and play. As a result, there will be new opportunities for brands and the properties they support to change the landscape and enhance fan experiences by bringing them even closer to the game through technology. You will see more virtual reality devices that put people in the shoes of the athletes and impact how sport is played and coached.

Cloud, big data and mobility will continue to change the landscape of investment properties and opportunities. Those who harness the power of insight will find a winning strategy and a compelling story to tell.

Engaging fans with loyalty programs, the ability to pay by mobile, and access to exclusive content and discounts will be critical to advancing the fan experience.

Player tracking and how that content will be used will be a huge topic of discussion in the future. Creating solutions that address what is more accurate (optical vs. sensor), who approves and owns the content, where the data can be used, and how you monetize the content, will all be prevalent conversations.

At the same time, leagues and teams will continue to debate how much access and technology integration is too much. Should people have access to real-time data and information from the bench, the locker room or the sidelines? These topics will continue to be discussed while technology partners like SAP are currently developing the solutions. 

J.W. Cannon, senior project lead, sponsorships and events, UPS
Big data, crowdfunding and hyper-targeting

I see crowdfunding breaking out in a big way in 2015—it’s a whole new revenue stream for properties looking for creative ways to engage potential sponsors and donors.

In addition, I think we’ll see significant growth in hyper-targeting, with teams and sponsors continuing to use big data to tailor communications and offers to specific groups.