Underinvestment in Digital is Harming Revenue Growth in Elite Sports

By Adam Mussa

With Australia’s two biggest leagues finished for 2019 I feel it’s time to look around at the changing marketing and sponsorship landscape within the sporting industry. The one problem that is yet to be overcome, especially from my Australia point-of-view, is that too many clubs are under-resourced in digital marketing and that is harming their ability to convert fans into more revenue.

The challenge is that while elite clubs and rights holders are very well staffed when it comes to content, to not place more attention on digital means that clubs are not getting the fan insights they need and are wasting the opportunity to sell bigger and better digital inventory to their sponsors.

One of my clients recently told me that sponsorship spending in digital is growing between five and 10 per cent year on year – faster than anything else. One of their brands had actually shifted a third of their sponsorship spend into digital. I believe many more brands will shift more expenditure into digital inventory over the next few years – turning into the industry norm in a decade. We’re currently seeing the ‘early adopters’ of the industry make their first moves. It’s logical to see why, as more brands are trying to measure their sponsorship ROI through hard data and sales – rather than share of voice and logo placements. I believe the age of ‘sponsorship to sale’ is truly upon us and it’ll be ushered in through digital marketing.

Sports clubs work with many fantastic technology businesses in athletic high performance, sports science and analytics more but the one area that is lagging is in digital marketing.

If clubs are getting between 0.05 to 0.1 per cent click-through rates on display advertising, therefore the conversation has clearly changed from aiming for massive reach to deeply connecting with their fan bases and converting them. The task for clubs is to try and bring some of that creativity back in house by looking for technological solutions to boost engagement and data acquisition.

One of the biggest challenges I see in club-land is resourcing and staff turnover, which leads to poor continuity, a constant pain point in this industry. Should they be adopting a similar mindset as their on-field and high performance counterparts and work in sync with external tech businesses to fill their internal gaps? I think so and it benefits everyone.

The sporting industry is no doubt changing – I’d say for the better – and there’s lots more to come. Like with many industries, there is a hesitance to be the first mover (even if that’s not quite how we think of ourselves), so elite clubs and digital marketing businesses have to work closer in building a greater trust with each other.

The sports industry is built on partnerships. I believe we’re all better off when useful external technologies are seen as allies that can fill in the internal gaps within your club, or elite clubs in general. Pioneering technology should not be the domain for athletes or high-performance, it is for back of house for clubs as well.

The author

Adam Mussa – Benchvote

E: adam@benchvote.com

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