Digital brands should follow Yahoo and hear the sweet sound of sponsorship

Marketers are struggling to get to grips with how technology is blurring the sponsorship model, but Yahoo’s activity around this weekend’s Wireless Festival demonstrates its potential. Digital brands should be following in Yahoo’s footsteps as a way to humanise their brands and help shape the evolving sponsorship landscape.

Seb Joseph

I was at a roundtable this week where media owners and marketers discussed how the nature of the sponsorship game is changing. That the sponsorship industry has matured over the last five years goes without saying but interestingly the discussion turned to how to create seamless and measurable multi-channel experiences around live events.  

Marketers are struggling in this area because of the lack of quality case studies. Last year’s Olympic Games were great at shining a spotlight on how sharing is becoming a key part of the live event experience, but for every P&G that got it right, there was a Visa that spectacularly failed.

This is where the likes of Yahoo and Bing, with the experiences they have in developing integrated campaigns online, can pave the way for analogue brands in breaking down the walled garden sponsorship model. The old model, where the rights holder creates value by controlling and limiting access to their property, is out of touch with fans’ demand for a real sense of ownership.

Yahoo, in partnership Live Nation, is hoping to capitalise on this shift over the weekend by coordinating exclusive content from the Olympic Park across its mail, Flickr, Tumblr and OMG services. It is a logistical challenge but the chance of reaching hundreds of thousands of young fans is one the fallen internet giant cannot afford to let up if it hopes to recapture former glories. For a brand that does not have necessarily much to say other than talk about its products, suddenly sponsorship gives it interesting content to share.

Robert Bridge, head of international marketing at Yahoo, said at the roundtable: “The Wireless Festival represents the culmination of two months of major activity using music as that passion point to reintroduce the brand to younger audience. The ultimate aim is to drive brand affinity but second to that is performance. We have the opportunity to get some real, hard metrics from the work we’re doing around event.”

Companies like Yahoo are performance driven and their expertise in measuring the effectiveness of multi-channel campaigns could convince sponsors to adopt a “use it or lose it approach” when it comes to rights. Because Yahoo can see how may people are watching the live-streams, how many people visited the OMG site and how may times the Flickr app was downloaded around Wireless, the business can see what content is really engaging fans and being amplified.  

The growing demand for content injects a fresh impetus for brands to develop sponsorship-type relations with partners when planning around live events. Coupled with the advent of smartphones, the shift puts sponsors  in a unique position where for the first time they can give fans a real sense of ownership – whether they are at the event or watching it at home. Digital marketers can help accelerate this and If Yahoo’s sponsorship around Wireless is a success then expect to see other brands exploring the area.

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