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Sponsorship Marketing
By David Phillips
Published on 09/3/2007
The Internet Society is ready made for enthusiasts. Sponsors can target an audience with great precision. Events and activities of the sponsored activity provide every reason for the netzine to return to the site on a regular basis. There would seem to be less resistance to advertising on sponsored sites than for other forms of internet advertising. Ability to build large databases of customer information. Provides constant data about the audience. Sport and cultural sponsorship on-line can be very creative. Internet tools that can be deployed.

The Internet Society
is ready made for enthusiasts. In addition to the official Manchester United Web site, there are dozens of sites dedicated to the team. The newsgroup postings run into thousands every month and there is a minute by minute analysis of every move in on-line media sites as well.

Internet sponsorship has a host of advantages. The first is that the sponsor can target the audience with great precision. As long as the symbiosis between an the sponsored activity and its interest group match the marketing need, then the match is 100%. Unlike all other forms of sponsorship, this is target marketing at its finest.

The second advantage is that the events and activities of the sponsored activity provide every reason for the netzine to return to the site on a regular basis, and can be encouraged to do so.

The appeal of a sport, music or other sponsored activity already attracts netzines to particular sites. While sponsorship can aid added interest in the site, there is already a considerable real or pent-up visitors presence. In addition a wide range of portals encourage visits to sports and cultural sites providing excellent third party promotion. There would seem to be less resistance to advertising on sponsored sites than for other forms of internet advertising. There are also many opportunities to look for added value links and third parties.

ESPN, has been a leader in sport marketing on the Web. ESPNet SportsZone39 is often cited as providing the best example of the future of the media in Cyberspace. Three years ago (when the Internet Society in the USA was only 47 million) ESPNet provided over 140,000 daily users with interactive games, up-to-the minute scores, game reports, feature stories, and statistics. Users are continually drawn to the site as a result of ESPN’s Web strategy. Its attractions include up to date fixture, scores and participant and rules information, chat and discussion groups about a wide range of sports. In addition to the free information it provides, access to real-time results and information, including streamed Webcasting for fee paying visitors, and, in addition, is a heavily sponsored site. Companies sponsoring football also sponsor the ESPN site.

Of ten million people on-line 1 million men and 600,000 women in the UK primarily use the Internet for entertainment40. Some 17% of American users of the Internet get sports information from the Internet and the majority do so more than once a week.

Translated to the UK this would represent 1.7 million users in mid 1999. On-line sports magazines such as ESPN in the USA, if translated to the UK would attract 28,000 daily visitors. By any standards it would seem that Internet sport sponsorship offers some considerable advantages.

Effective sponsorship

offers a constant stream of visitors who have an endless fascination with the subjects and also provides constant data about the audience. One of the remarkable developments for the Web is the ability and capability of user's to multitask. The evidence of people buying while listening to streamed radio and television translates well to Internet sponsorship and the opportunities for retails sales are extensive.

Thus there are many good reasons why the Internet sponsorship should be an option for reputation development and they conform to most of the primary reasons why companies use sponsorship as a reputation management tool:

public awareness
corporate image
public perception
community involvement
financial relations
client entertainment
government relations
employee relations
compete with other companies
business relations
reach target market
brand positioning
increase sales
generate visibility
generate publicity
enhance ad campaign
avoid clutter
target specificity

The definitive Internet site covering the subject of sport sponsorship, its value and evaluation is 'Cyber Journal of Sport Marketing. Sport and cultural sponsorship on-line can be very creative and offers a lot of scope for many types of activity, co-operation with co-sponsors and the organisation being sponsored. One look at the sport of football on Yahoo will give an indication of the range of opportunities that exists in terms of sites where involvement can be developed.

Equally the Internet tools that can be deployed, such as interactive and database driven information can be really appealing.

On the one hand you have to be careful about who you sponsor both in terms of sport, arts, events and community sponsorship in order that your good name is maintained.
In addition, you have to take due regard of the companies that bear your banner advertisement or hyperlink.
The latter is not at all easy. It is simple for a Webmaster to add your hyperlink to his site. You have to monitor this happening and as necessary get it removed if it will adversely affect Internet reputation.

Furthermore, you will need to be active in promoting your, preferably interactive, presence on other sites especially those organisations you sponsor to enhance your virtual presence and your brand equity. The public relations industry is well aware of the value of endorsement (the nature of much press relations is based on the concept of media endorsement). On the Internet, endorsement through sponsorship, inter-related marketing and virtual presence building and management of who the company and its brand is associated with, is now an important element of reputation management.