What trends are sponsorship executives watching in 2017, and why?

IEG SR poised that question to sponsorship executives at leading companies, properties and agencies. Not surprisingly, audience data, virtual reality and eSports topped the list.

Ryan Luckey, AT&T assistant vice president of corporate sponsorship
The evolution from big data to big insights

“As proposed rights fees continue to increase, corporate sponsors will lean on properties to find new ways to directly drive greater value. I expect both sponsors and properties will push for greater access to data, and lean into more fact-based decision-making. This is the evolution from “big data” to “big insights”—to understand more about fans and customers to find better, more relevant ways to target and engage fans.”

Mike Lee, AEG Global Partnerships director of digital
The growing popularity of eSports—and land grab for talent

“Esports are the new kid on the block and continue to be a hot topic for 2017. The numbers prove that the gaming audience has scale and drives some of the strongest engagement numbers out there. Big brands are jumping in, more media companies are taking notice, and there’s going to be an inevitable land grab for more talent and content.”

Chris Lee, U.S. Bank vice president, sponsorships
The integration of non-endemic brands into the eSports community

“The emergence of non-traditional sports like eSports is fascinating to me. Outside of endemic brands, I am very curious to see how brands will learn and adapt to play in that space and the challenges they could face. You wonder if a non-endemic will be able to break through in a way that the audience responds in a positive way and that the brand is able to benefit from the large audience the platform has.”

Sloane Kelley, PGA Tour senor director, content
The rise of eSports and artificial intelligence

“What became a hot topic in 2016 will likely become a real driver of revenue and sponsorship in 2017. More traditional leagues will seek to find ways to connect their product with this dedicated audience of eSports consumers.

“Facebook Messenger bots will become an integral part of communications strategy for many brands. Think of bots as the 2017 version of the information booth. Along with bots, the use of AI in everyday life and sports will become more common in 2017.”

Colin Smith, NASCAR Digital Media vice president
The integration of virtual reality into the event experience

“Virtual reality as a viable solution and opportunity for brands—not only for brand integration but also for the value and return brands will derive from the technology itself. For NASCAR, we want to find the sweet spot with VR and the in-car camera experience. As a fan, imagine riding shotgun with Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the last five laps of the Daytona 500.”