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Smart Sponsorship: Fan Engagement in Motorsports

Entities across all categories of motorsports agree on one thing:  motorsports sponsorship as we know it is experiencing a major disruption. Newer technologies, change in audience habits and interests, and a drop in traditional viewership are some factors that have pushed motorsports to adapt and innovate in the ways they reach audiences.

Motorsports Is Growing

While motorsports fans may not be watching the full races on TV as much as they used to, every major series across motorsports experienced a growth in social followers in 2017, an indication of the growth of the sport overall [Figure 1].

Figure 1: Every major motorsports series gained followers in 2017

Formula 1 had the highest percent growth at 57%, suggesting the sport is growing on a global scale. And it’s not just the followership that is growing, the engagement is growing for each of these series as well. In 2017, there were more than 4.3B social engagements across the world of motorsports, a strong increase over that seen in 2016 [Figure 2].

Figure 2: Fan engagement is growing across motorsports on social & digital media

With a multitude of entertainment options and various channels to watch them, audience attention spans are shorter than ever before. To combat this, top entities in motorsports have begun to reframe their entire approach to content and media by providing various content formats that appeal to a wide range of audiences. Examples of unique and exciting content that resonates with fans and holds their interest are:

  • pre-race clips (sometimes a week leading into the race)
  • highlights of the race
  • behind the scenes posts (pre-race and during)
  • visor/helmet/POV cam videos

Some series also stream the entire race on their online digital channels, so that core fans can watch the entire race or parts of it again if they choose to do so. By providing varied content formats, motorsports entities can engage a wide variety of audiences – the core audience passionate about the race and cars as well as pique interest in new audiences who can learn more about the event/series.

Not only are engaged fans needed to grow the sport, but motorsports sponsorship stakeholders are asking for more return on their investment and brand objectives. Maybe more so than any other sport, motorsports organizations depend on sponsors to keep their cars on the track and their business running smoothly. Hookit’s guide examines the data and trends in motorsports to see where the fans are and how brands can engage them for motorsports sponsorship ROI.

Spontech in Motorsports

Sports sponsorship has been through a day of reckoning in recent times where data is constantly scrutinized.

—Rob Bloom, Global Head of Digital @ McLaren

Properties need to be able to bring data into sponsorship conversations to demonstrate tangible ROI for a sponsor’s investment. However, identifying the impact of sponsorship is highly complex. Properly measuring and valuing data across social media, broadcast, livestream, OTT, and more, then organizing all that data gathered into a central platform to gain insights that drive more effective sponsorship decisions is a huge challenge. To address this challenge, Hookit has developed its proprietary platform that enables sports entities to easily combine these different data sources for measurement, valuation, and insightful analysis. This technology, called spontech, empowers sponsors to prove ROI and ROO for investments in motorsports organizations.

This year, McLaren shaped its content and deliverables by making its partners a part of the story while engaging and generating conversations with fans without diminishing the fan experience. In conjunction with this new fan-partner engagement strategy, McLaren has been able to measure the ROI for each campaign and has proved the value generated for each partner. This reporting has helped them sign new partners and kept their existing partners engaged with the team throughout the season.

Metrics That Matter

We will keep an eye on the trends with continued focus on giving the fans what they want to consume while delivering a meaningful brand experience that keeps our fans engaged.

—Dave Muye, VP of Global Partnerships @ Feld Entertainment (Supercross)

Lately, brands have begun to shift their sponsorship decision making from reactive to predictive, looking for properties who align with their brand goals and KPIs. One outcome of this sponsorship strategy shift is performance-based sponsorships, in which properties are incentivized to drive more value for their sponsors by winning on and off the field with fans. Leading brands are getting deeper into the data to see if they’re reaching their target consumer.

Media value and exposure value are some of the key metrics that brands valuing properties look for. Other key metrics that leading brands working with Hookit track are:

  • Sponsorship effectiveness: When comparing properties, brands want to know if one property is more effective than the other, i.e., how good is each property at integrating their sponsors into their campaigns and content.
  • Sponsor share of voice: How much is the property promoting one sponsor vs its other sponsors.
  • Brand loyalty: How likely are fans to buy from that team’s sponsors and how much more do they associate themselves with those brands.
  • Sales lift: This is the holy grail of motorsports sponsorship – predicting what the sales lift will be in that region over a certain time period after the sponsorship takes effect.

Hookit works with brands to build these metrics into their dashboard and input data from a variety of sources, including 1st and 3rd party data to produce these metrics and many more.

Want to learn more? Download the Engaging Fans in Motorsports Guide by Hookit now! It also includes a full social sponsorship recap of all major motorsport entities in 2017.

A pioneer in the spontech space, Hookit is the leading single source platform for quantifying sports sponsorship value across all forms of media. Hookit works with brands and rights holders to expand their sponsorship intelligence, allowing them to buy and sell sponsorships more effectively.

Roger A. Breum is Director of Marketing at Hookit. He leads the marketing team and runs strategy, partnerships, & events. He has worked across the sports industry, including positions with BridgeAthletic, Repucom, Under Armour, and the World Surf League. He received his BS in Engineering (Mechanical) from Trinity College and his MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Learn more about the ways brands can leverage sponsorship to engage the connected fan at Hashtag Sports, an annual conference for media and marketing professionals.

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