Tag Archives: sponsorship

Weekly interesting news round up

Here’s a summary of interesting stories I’ve seen over the last week. I try to concentrate on the stories which aren’t necessarily mainstream.

Sport & hospitality

Formula 1 Ferrari
Formula 1 sponsorship is still growing due to the value of live sports
Source: Wikipedia

Q: How much do you think Marlboro sponsor Ferrari?

A: Around $100m per year.

As we watch more and more on-demand television, the value of live sports television just keeps rising. http://www.sportspromedia.com/news/ferrari-spark-marlboro-renewal Continue reading Weekly interesting news round up

Reading tab list for July

Sales of the Apple Watch haven't been released, but stocks continue to soar
Sales of the Apple Watch haven’t been released, but stocks continue to soar. Photo courtesy of Michael Roth

It should be holiday season by now, but the Christmas and Summer holidays productivity downturn seemed to cease two to three years ago (I’m basing this on my experience in the UK).

This is what I’ve read recently:

Banks could be sheepdogs (like Apple) – A great article describing how banks are utilities, but could become extremely important in the Identity revolution
Drone shooting: US home-owner faces charges – BBC News – A surprising story about a man who shot down a drone in the US, which flew over his house several times

Continue reading Reading tab list for July

The Sponsored/ Promoted placement business model

Who to follow on Twitter: spot the sponsored account
Who to follow on Twitter: spot the promoted account

Sponsored placements or sponsored posts or promoted content are one of the latest forms of monetisation I’ll be discussing in this series.

Imagine you were the CEO of Twitter before it made any money. You have several million users all posting content all day long, and several more million users consuming this content without posting.

You have a few options at this stage – you can make the website look the same as all other websites and sprinkle some ad placements over the page, but this won’t work on mobile and it may devalue your proposition of keeping a vertical conversational timeline simple.

Continue reading The Sponsored/ Promoted placement business model

Top 5 Sponsorship Innovations

Working for IMG for a few years, I got to learn a few things about sport sponsorship. It’s one thing to put a sponsor on a t-shirt, but there are also new ways. Here are my top 5 sponsorship activations:

  1. One of my favourite sports sponsorship deals is
    Team Sky Cycling Team Photo: Mogens Engelund
    Team Sky Cycling Team Photo: Mogens Engelund

    the Sky cycling team. My assumption is that Sky didn’t own the television rights to the Olympics in 2012, plus they could see Bradley Wiggins rising through the ranks of British Cycling. This meant he could potentially win the Tour de France and if the sponsorship was activated correctly, the two brands could become synonymous. By pumping more money into the cycling team than any other team was receiving, training and winning was a little easier. Also, some consider cycling as ‘the new golf‘, with popularity steadily increasing, so Sky have capitalised on this too, with events such as Sky Ride. Even the branding and design of the Sky team wear has been carefully thought about.

  2. Deutsche Telekom sponsor Bayern Munich. The German telco also want to prove their IT capabilities, so they use their own domain (which also really helps SEO) for the Bayern Munich website: www.fcbayern.telekom.de. In digital media terms it’s not only innovative, but subtle and effective.
  3. In 2008, a computer gamer and YouTube user, Levinator25, uploaded a video to YouTube of a glitch in the game Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08. The video showed that if a ball landed in water in a specific place, Tiger Woods would stand on the water and still take the shot. EA responded with a video that is just brilliant, and more importantly, has been watched over 6.5 million times.
  4. Clever marketing from Morrisons for Andy Murray
    Clever marketing from Morrisons for Andy Murray

    When Andy Murray won Wimbledon, most of the UK came to a standstill. Some clever people at Morrisons had thought about this historic event a fortnight earlier when Wimbledon started, and converted the front of their Wimbledon store to read “Murriwins“. Interestingly, I think this was technically ‘ambush marketing‘, because I don’t think Morrisons was a sponsor. And Morrisons isn’t a sponsor of Wimbledon either.

  5. The last example isn’t a sports sponsorship but it’s very clever. And apparently no money changed hands either – quite what type of sponsorship this is categorised as, I have no idea! Nevertheless, for Nestle to sponsor the name of the next Android Operating System as ‘Kit Kat’ is ingenious. The Kit Kat brand can handle this – it’s a bit of fun, and the previous names of Android Operating Systems such as ‘Eclair’ and ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’. For Nestle to agree to this ‘deal’ it demonstrates how mainstream and ‘cool’ the technology has become. Did you know that Android Operating System names are in alphabetical order? This meant Kit Kat nicely slotted into place.

How the Olympics team delivered London2012.com

Click to watch the London 2012 highlights video

The Olympics is like London buses – you don’t see anything about it for a while, and suddenly you get several opportunities at the same time.

On Monday I was very fortunate to meet with Alex Balfour, who was the Head of New Media at London 2012. If you haven’t seen Alex’s summary of London 2012 on slideshare yet, stop reading this and take a read straight away.

So I saw Alex on Monday, who for a man who has had one of the most stressful jobs in Digital Media for the last three years, didn’t look any worse for it (no grey hair or hair loss!); and this evening I was invited to an event hosted by Simon La Fosse where the guest speaker was Gerry Pennell, the CIO of London 2012.

Gerry spoke for around thirty minutes, which flew by quickly, and then there were literally dozens, dozens of questions from the audience. The thing that struck me was how each member of the audience was so polite and started off by congratulating Gerry and his team on such a successful event. This was refreshing because the IT community doesn’t congratulate one another – IT has such a high expectation that if it works, well, it’s expected to, and anything less is something to complain about.

Gerry described how important digital was such a key component of delivering the Games. Actually, he wanted to stick to ‘just’ the huge undertaking of delivering a live events service, but his presentation kept coming back to digital consumers. All wonderfully consumer focussed.

Some of the other key points he covered:

  • Just under a quarter of LOCOG’s budget went to IT
  • It was easy to motivate his team to get things done – everyone knew about the deadline, rather than many other IT organisations who have a degree of lethargy and motivation issues
  • Gerry’s teams had to create their own requirements four years ago, because the rest of the organisation didn’t know what it would want back then
  • Preparation was key. The team prepared via a large number of test events, scenario planning, disaster recovery planning, and so on
  • LOCOG knew that they were going to have a rough time with the press. He told a story about the day that the BlackBerry Messaging service went down, and a journalist in his office blamed Gerry for the outage!
  • The threat of cyber-attacks was taken extremely seriously, and some politicians were involved on this subject. There were six actual significant attacks during the Games which were dealt with, and Gerry was paid his compliments to their Content Delivery Network
  • To resolve IT issues immediately, rather than the usual IT call-fix resolution timescales, they had to ‘saturate’ the stadia with support staff and equipment – they would replace desktops and equipment rather than problem solve
  • Despite all the IT infrastructure, there is still a huge reliance on paper in the stadia – referees and other games staff wanted/ needed to have a sheet of paper. The last two Olympics have printed 50 million sheets of paper, and in London they produced 16 million. A full box of office printer paper has 2,500 sheets, so that’s still almost 6,500 boxes of paper!
  • LOCOG were shocked at the amount of mobile traffic. And this traffic wanted live results. For the first time, London was able to provide point by point score updates (as opposed to game or match results) – and the peak traffic period was the Murray final, where mobile users wanted point by point updates about the match
  • There were 40 university sandwich placements who worked for the LOCOG IT organisation. I had a sandwich placement in my third year at university, and I can only begin to imagine what an experience the Olympics must have been for these once-in-a-lifetime lucky students

Someone in the audience asked about the huge amount of data that LOCOG had collected during the summer, and whether there was a Big Data opportunity. Gerry answered that the team was disbanded straight after the Paralympics, so there wasn’t much of an opportunity or business desire (because the business was dismantled as well!)

We are seeing a world where the value of content is continually diminishing – there are so many sources of content that it’s easy to move to someone who’s giving it away for free as soon as one source starts charging. Technology also makes it easy to bypass traditional content funding models – such as the ability to fast forward during adverts on pre-recorded TV programmes.

Sport will continually increasing in value though. By its nature, it’s time sensitive, so it’s usually watched live. This makes the advertising much more valuable – for instance, think about the infamous Super Bowl ads.

This in turn makes the content more valuable – and one of the key reasons why the English Premiership’s rights rose 71% this year to over a billion pounds per season.

Sport – it’s only a game. Really???

A look at New York Times digital revenues



Digital businesses include NYTimes.com, BostonGlobe.com, Boston.com, About.com, other Company Web sites and related digital products. In the third quarter of 2011, total digital advertising revenues decreased 4.5 percent to $74.8 million from $78.3 million. Digital advertising revenues at the News Media Group increased 6.2 percent to $50.3 million from $47.4 million due to growth in retail and national display advertising. Digital advertising revenues as a percentage of total Company advertising revenues were 28.6 percent for the third quarter of 2011 compared with 27.3 percent in the third quarter of 2010.

In the first nine months of 2011, the Company’s total digital advertising revenues increased 0.9 percent to $242.9 million from $240.7 million. Digital advertising revenues at the News Media Group increased 12.2 percent to $162.4 million from $144.7 million. Digital advertising revenues as a percentage of total Company advertising revenues were 28.2 percent for the first nine months of 2011 compared with 26.3 percent in the first nine months of 2010.

Paid digital subscribers to The Times digital subscription packages, e-readers and replica editions totaled approximately 324,000 as of the end of the third quarter of 2011. In addition to these paid digital subscribers, as of the end of the third quarter of 2011, The Times had more than 100,000 highly engaged users sponsored by Ford Motor Company’s luxury brand, Lincoln, who have free access to NYTimes.com and smartphone apps until the end of the year, and approximately 800,000 home-delivery subscribers with linked digital accounts, who receive free digital access. In total, The Times had paid and sponsored relationships with over 1.2 million digital users as of the end of the third quarter of 2011.

Source: The New York Times Company

My interpretation

  • In the last quarter, there were 1.2 million registered users, of whom 324,000 paid something, and 100,000 were paid for by Ford (a great subscription model as long as there are no catches for either party) and 800,000 were covered by their print subscription. In other words, they have a churn of about 25%.
  • The site has 45 million unique visitors per month as of January 2011 – it’s interesting that they use comScore to quote that 45 million. ComScore use an estimated data model, as opposed to NYT using their own actual data.
  • Anyway, 45 million unique users and 324,000 have paid something – that’s a conversion rate of less than one percent, however paid for content is still very much in its infancy.
  • Those 45 million users probably don’t include Smartphone users or e-readers (hats off to ComScore if that can get that data, however I suspect they can’t).
  • Doing some extremely rough sums, subscriptions are 99 cents for the first 4 weeks and then $3.75 per week thereafter. Let’s ignore the special offer price and let’s assume Ford pay a full $3.75 per user. Ignoring the print subscribers who get the digital edition for free, that’s a total revenue of $1.59 million per week. Let’s assume NYT earned this revenue throughout the entire quarter (12 weeks), that’s a total of $19 million for the quarter.
  • Digital advertising across the group (and this includes a number of other websites and newspapers) generated $74.8 million.

Lessons to take away from this quarterly statement

  • The premium digital content model still has a way to go – advertising still generated four times the revenue as subscribers.
  • ‘Wholesale’ or ‘sponsored’ user bases are key drivers for the number of paid for subscribers – Ford pay for 100,000 users and NYT have 324,000 paying individual subscribers. Think of the effort that goes into the Ford deal compared to the direct to consumer sales effort.

npowerclub72.com site review


This week npower, who secured the naming rights to the Football League from the 2010/11 season for three years, jumped on the bandwagon and launched a Football League social network – www.npowerclub72.com.

The agency behind the website clearly had some good intentions, some of which I agree with:

  1. Don’t use Facebook Connect for everything, because unless you’re a unique level of Superbrand, all the consumer data that you’ll be collecting will be owned by Facebook. I agree with this and at Endava we call this On Portal and Off Portal. Off Portal are social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. where the brand has no permanent rights to consumer data, and On Portal are brand-owned social networks where all the data belongs to the brand.
  2. Badges are good. I also agree with the philosophy that when users have used the site for long enough, reward them with badges. This idea has been around for a long time (Xbox or even Gold/Platinum credit cards and airline points cards). Badges cost nothing to distribute (they are only pixels), and instantly provide a level of loyalty to a website where users want to return to earn the next badge. On Npower’s website, users earn a badge for visiting/ claiming to visit a Football League club’s ground.
  3. Football and social networks. It’s been a long time coming – with football the most popular sport in the UK, and social networks so successful here as well, it’s natural to create a network for football fans.

So far so good.

The design is OK, nothing too fancy, and then again, it probably doesn’t need to be – neither Facebook or its twin brother Google+ are going to win any creative design awards.

Here’s what I’d have done differently if we ran the site:

  1. Badges are overused. In fact, the only thing to do on the site is earn badges. No other user generated content exists, and there’s no moderation on the site to you claiming all the badges. This defeats the loyalty aspect completely.
  2. No Facebook integration at all. The site should update Facebook (and Twitter, etc.) when users earn badges (once they sort out the badge issue).
  3. The visit-a-football-ground should be extended to upload pictures when a user visits a ground. This will provide a level of self-moderation.
  4. There’s no mobile support. In 2011, all sites should include mobile browser support and then include [iPhone and Android, etc.] app support. The mobile support should include mobile photo uploads and GPS, to provide FourSquare style ‘Check-In’ functionality to grounds.
  5. There’s little content links to the Football League. I would expect at least a league table and results ticker.

Back to my point above – a social network for football fans has been a long time coming, and I still think the opportunity exists for someone (probably a sponsor) to produce one.


London to Brighton


Yesterday I cycled from London to Brighton for the British Heart Foundation’s annual ride. It’s really well organised (one of those rare events where you can’t think of any improvements) and until you’ve taken part yourself, you can’t describe what it’s like to be in a mass participation sport with the public cheering you on.

Some of the highlights:

  • Realising Ditchling Beacon isn’t as difficult as Highgate Hill (on my twice-a-week commute)
  • The ice cream at the top of Ditchling Beacon
  • The general banter amongst which started at 5am and finished at 5pm
  • The finishing straight in Brighton with everyone cheering
  • 43mph on the downhill after Ditchling Beacon
  • Overtaking cyclists on £2,000 machines on my £27 bike from eBay!

We are still taking sponsorship for the British Heart Foundation thanks to some of the guys in our group of twelve (see below) who set it up.


England 2018 Sponsorship vs social networks


The latest newsletter from the England 2018 ‘Back the bid’ campaign shows the power of social networks – see the screenshot above.

Brands such as Morrisons, PWC, Umbro, British Airways and BT have spent a small fortune sponsoring the bid so far, and rightly see their logos at the bottom of all communications.

Below their logos are links to the social network where supporters of the bid can track any progress – and some of these logos are larger than the brands above!

When Yahoo! sponsored a Formula 1 team, they had to pay for it, however the market has changed so much, so quickly, that sports brands now embrace social networks (rightly so IMHO as a key traffic driver – no pun intended).

Paddy Power in free Woods publicity

According to UK newspaper The Guardian, the deal would also include bonuses of £1 million for winning a US major and £2 million for winning the Open.

Paddy Power said: “We’re in negotiations with IMG to sponsor Tiger. It’s still in the early stage of the negotiations, really. It’s going to be, if it all comes off, the biggest kind of sponsorship deal we have ever done by quite a way.”

Several US pollsters say Tiger Woods’ popularity with corporate sponsors and the public has plummeted despite his public apology several weeks ago.

Bloomberg reports that US company Davie Brown Entertainment reported that Woods had fallen from sixth to 147th, in their index of celebrity endorsers, based on polls carried out in the week ending March 2.

Woods’ spokesman Glenn Greenspan has hit back with his own poll reports that show viewers of the apology came away with a better impression of the golfer. He said a February 19 survey, by HCD Research, of 1,090 people who watched Woods public apology on television, showed that 31 per cent came away with a more positive perception of him, 17 per cent a more negative perception, and 52 percent were unchanged.

Greenspan said Woods had received “an outpouring of support in letters, calls and e-mails to our office,” after the television appearance.

via sportbusiness.com

Some great publicity this morning from Paddy Power – for **not** being able to sponsor Tiger Woods!

So, they manage to achieve some publicity, and Tiger Woods is seen to be receiving sponsorship offers again, so it’s a win-win all round.