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With Sports Sponsorship Technology, There's No Easy Solution

The sports sponsorship process is complicated, and sports executives on both the buy and sell side are increasingly challenged to justify the return on partnership investments, whether to a potential lead or, after the activation, to a CEO asking why their marketing dollars were spent in sports. Technology is increasingly playing a critical role in this process. At the Sports Innovation Lab, when we talk about Next-Generation Sponsorship, we’re referring to how technology is changing this process. Next-Generation Sponsorship is a new set of rules that guides the sponsorship process in a world where technology is dramatically changing the sports sponsorship landscape.

Change, and technological disruption can be scary and intimidating, especially in the entrenched world of sports. Our interviews for our Unpacking Innovation series with innovation executives echoes this—that innovation is as much about technology as it is about convincing stakeholders to consider change. Sports sponsorship is complicated, and therefore, comprehensive solutions are not yet robust enough to address the myriad questions, challenges, and considerations that go into an expensive sponsorship decision. Add to this the increase in partnerships where companies are integrating their technology into the very product they are promoting, and it becomes even more complicated.

For our clients at the Sports Innovation Lab, we advocate for a Portfolio Approach to integrating technology into the sports sponsorship process. The Portfolio Approach requires an understanding of the traditional sponsorship process and all the technology that is changing that process. It requires an understanding of individual point solutions, but more importantly, it requires an understanding of how to link those solutions together to create a customized suite that fills specific needs. Understanding how different tech capabilities like partner matching, asset tracking, influencer identification, and computer vision fit together are the foundation of the Portfolio Approach. Naturally, the Portfolio Approach requires strategic and operational thinking, but in our experience, the time spent developing this approach proves infinitely more valuable than the time lost attempting to rebuild after you discover your expensive, comprehensive software suite failed. The Portfolio approach will bring insight, drive efficiency, and create transparency for all players involved in the sports sponsorship process.

You can read more about how we see Next-Generation Sponsorship evolving, and about how we design a sports-tech portfolio in our free, downloadable Next-Generation Sponsorship report.

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