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These days, sport is big business. From massive global sporting events like the World Cup, to giant team brands like Real Madrid or the Dallas Cowboys, the intersection between sports and business is increasingly lucrative and increasingly global. And one particularly profitable channel of income for the sports teams (and venues) is sponsorship.

Sponsors pay millions of dollars every year to be associated to sports teams and sporting events around the world resulting in brand names reaching millions if not billions of people. But how can the value of this sponsorship be determined in the social media age? In our latest case study, using social listening we combined the financial cost of venue sponsorship of some of North America’s largest telecoms brands with the social data these big ticket sponsorships generate to try and uncover the monetary value of sponsorship online. Here are the key findings:

AT&T Stadium most mentioned but AT&T Park the best value

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(Share of voice (left) and cost per mention (right) for the seven examined venues over the last year)

Although AT&T Stadium – home of the Dallas Cowboys – had the edge in terms of total online mentions at just under 380,000 over the last year, another AT&T venue, AT&T Park, came out on top in terms of value for money. The value for money was calculated by dividing the total mentions for the year, by the yearly cost of sponsorship (Source: NYT, Sports Business Daily). It was by this measure that AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, came out on top, clocking a cost per mention of just under $8, just ahead of AT&T Center.

Success can double the value of sponsorship

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(Total online mentions for the seven examined venues over the last year with mention spikes highlighted)

The success of AT&T Park and Center was largely due to the success of the respective resident professional sports teams: the San Francisco Giants and the San Antonio Spurs. Last year, the Giants won baseball’s World Series and the Spurs won the NBA Championship. In the case of the Spurs in particular, the value of AT&T’s sponsorship of AT&T Center halved when looking at just the last 6 months to over $20 per mention showing exactly how important success can be. That said, success isn’t the only condition for generating good value. Venues like Verizon Center and Bell Centre in Montreal performed well based on hosting a variety of events (both sporting and non-sporting) and others used their social presence to their advantage.

U.S. Cellular and Bell losing out from lack of social presence

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(Two of the most shared tweets posted by venue Twitter feeds over the last year)

One of the big things that came out of the data was that having a social presence, particularly a Twitter presence, was a big advantage in terms of online mentions and engagement. Five of the seven venues had some kind of a Twitter presence and benefited greatly from it. The minimum value of Twitter account related mentions for all venues was around $200,000 per year. By not having a Twitter presence, Bell Centre and U.S. Cellular Field seem to be losing out significantly both in terms of engagement and brand visibility and are making their sponsorship deals less cost effective.

Using social intelligence to combine social data with financial data helps companies and brands get another perspective on the value for money of marketing activities such as sponsorship. For major companies like the North American telecoms brands in this case study, understanding the value of such activities can help businesses make better informed marketing investments and gain an edge over the competition.

For more in-depth analysis of exactly how companies can effectively measure the value of their sponsorship deals and make the most of the brand visibility that sponsorship brings, read the full case study:

Image Credit: Lena Corazon on