Are Sports Media Buys Worth the Investment?

Perhaps the only thing larger than the audience for sporting events, like the Super Bowl and March Madness tournaments, is the cost for marketers to advertise during these  such events. But are they truly worth the cost? Do they generate any real return in exchange for such large investments?

Media buys for sporting events are among the most expensive for marketers. For example, over the last two years the price to air a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl has reached and exceeded $4 million. But this hefty price tag has not dissuaded marketers from participating year after year.

Sports Media Buys Benefits

But why? There are some solid reasons actually.

  • Reliable Ratings: TV is an unpredictable place. It’s not unusual for shows that were at one time huge hits to eventually lose steam and audience. Sporting events are consistently reliable to deliver large ratings year after year. The Super Bowl is the most expensive sports media buy a marketer makes, but it also guarantees the largest brand exposure each year.
  • Broad Audience Base: Sports fans tend to vary by race, household income, geography and even gender. Sporting event media buys are a great way to reach a large, diverse cross-section of people with one event.
  • Global Growth Opportunities: Multinational sporting events like the World Cup and the Olympic Games are watched by people all over the world. For companies looking to increase awareness and/or market share internationally, this type of brand exposure offers a good start.
  • Sponsorship Perks: Partnership and sponsorships can increase your business exposure to a different audience. Additionally sponsorships can provide exclusive marketing opportunities and value add that non-sponsors won’t receive.

Before Making that Sports Media Buy, Consider This

Over the past few years however, particularly during the recession, ad budgets dwindled and marketers were forced to assess which media buys brought the most value. Sports media buys were called to question and among them these concerns came up:

  • Cost: Is it more cost effective to make the one time investment in reach with a single-day event with huge audiences or to go for frequency by spreading the cost out over a series of games?
  • ROI: Certainly there’s no question that the high cost comes with large exposure and in some cases frequency, but do these really equate to higher sales and more revenue.
  • Alternatives: Buying digital has been found to reach a larger audience, for considerably less. In fact, a Digiday article found that the same $4.5 million in Super Bowl ad spend could have purchased 3.5 billion display ads, 50 million video views on Facebook, 6.4 million clicks on search ads, or at least 15 digital agency workers among others.
  • High CPMs: A Super Bowl audience comes with 113 million estimated viewers, assuming that every single one saw your ad the CPM would be close to $40 per viewer. To add perspective the CPM for a Facebook ad of that same size is about $1.54 per person.

Is a Sports Media Buys Worth the Cost?

If you are still not sure whether or not to make this decision, start by asking yourself these questions:

  • What are our business goals with this ad campaign?: Is it to sell products, build awareness, make a statement, or drive traffic to the website? Sports sponsorships are generally done by companies that are already pretty well known and want to just reinforce their brand, launch a new product or brand extension. Companies like Coca Cola, Anheuser Busch, and Nike are among the largest sports spenders on advertising and are globally well-known brands.
  • Can we afford to allocate our money here? We typically recommend sports ad buys for brands with large media budgets like the ones mentioned in the previous bullet. This is purely because the costs are so exponential and the cost for one ad can generally kill most or in many cases an entire media budget. Consider looking for opportunities to diversify and spread the budget over various advertising channels.
  • Is your company seasonal? This can help determine when is the best time to make the media buy so that it coincides with the time when your product or service is most in demand.
  • Product costs: Under the CPM bullet we compared the cost of buying a Super Bowl ad with a Facebook ad, but an additional consideration here is just how much of your product will you have to sell to make that CPM or total ad buy profitable for you.

Bring in a Starter to Increase Your Chances of Success

Like professional athletes, professional media buyers and planners are skilled practitioners who understand the importance of having a good team execute your strategy. Contact Capitol Media Solutions and let us customize a media strategy that will help you reach your business goals.

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