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North American sponsorship spending is expected to grow by 4.5% this year to exceed $24 billion, according to recent estimates from ESP Properties. But as a new study from the ANA points out, few marketers who are involved in sponsorship and its measurement have a standardized process for measuring return on sponsorships.

The survey was conducted among 182 respondents, 61% of whom are senior marketers and 41% of whom work for organizations with an annual US media budget of at least $100 million.

Just 37% of the marketers surveyed said that they had a standardized process for measuring return on sponsorships, with 53% definitively not having one and the remaining 10% unsure. As the ANA points out the survey invitation screened for marketers “involved in sponsorship and its measurement or have a good working knowledge of how your company measures sponsorships.” In other words, these are the marketers who should have an understanding of sponsorship measurement. Moreover, these respondents include marketers at some of the biggest sponsorship spenders in the US.

The results indicate that standardized processes for sponsorship measurement have not made any inroads this decade. Back in 2013, for example, 46% said they had such a process for measurement, while in 2010 42% had one.

No wonder that recent survey results from ESP Properties indicate that assistance in measuring ROI/ROO is the most valuable service offered by sponsorship properties.

Which Metrics Are Best?

Given the scarcity of standardized processes for measuring sponsorship ROI, it’s important to look at what those who have such a process are doing. It’s worth noting that this pares the sample down to a small size, so these results should probably be used for directional purposes only.

The following highlights some findings from report, focused on the small sample of respondents.

  • The ROI metric that is both the most-used and considered the most valuable is total sponsorship investment financial return. Fewer measure product or service sales, though this is perceived to be the second-most valuable metric.
  • The most commonly-used return on objective (ROO) metric is brand awareness, which makes sense given that the most important objective for sponsorship is creating awareness/visibility. More marketers measure the ROO metric of social media exposure than TV exposure. The ANA points out that it “did not find evidence of social media contributing to sustainable changes in attitudes or behaviors,” calling the metrics “distracting noise.”
  • Although brand awareness is the most-used ROO metric, brand preference – which sees lesser use – rivals it as a most-valuable ROO metric.
  • Marketers most want sponsorship properties to provide audience research on sponsor recognition/recall, audience research on attitudes about sponsors, and audience research on behavior towards sponsors.

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