Monday, September 30th, 2013 | 5 min read
Whether it’s through time-shifting, ad-blocking, or carefully timed bathroom breaks, consumers have mastered the art of ignoring advertisements. In response, marketers have been turning to athlete endorsers to make their products stand out. And it works: athlete endorsements yield an average 4% increase in sales and a .25% increase in stock value. The rise of social media and the massive attention paid to athletes in social have created a new channel in which athletes can influence consumer behavior and brands can capitalize on endorser opportunities.
The most effective athlete endorsement campaigns require activation, measurement, and optimization. We pulled the data for a large brand with a well-respected roster of athlete endorsers and discovered that almost 20% of their sponsored, compensated athletes had failed to take a single brand-related social action in more than 6 months. These athletes had a cumulative social audience of more than 15,000,000 subscribers, yet that audience was left untapped for over half of the year.
Athletes are vastly more appealing to consumers in social media than the brands they endorse. Nothing affirms this imbalance more clearly than Twitter: the COMBINED Twitter audience for McDonalds, Starbucks, and Coca-Cola (7,938,017) is less than half the size of soccer (football) star Cristiano Ronaldo’s (21,496,784) audience. Other great examples include: Lebron James with nearly 5 times as many followers as Nike, Derrick Rose with more than 4 time as many followers as Adidas, or Roger Federer with 200 times as many followers as Lindt Chocolate.
And this is just the gap in audiences. It doesn’t begin to account for the credibility difference between content shared on social media by a beloved athlete and content shared by a brand. New technology makes it incredibly easy to activate athletes in social and then calculate the ROI of their activities on behalf of your brand.
Social technology means that athlete endorsements can be more powerful than ever before. They also mean that brands have to learn how to put social endorsement programs in place with their athletes, enforce compliance, and measure ROI. These five steps will get you focused and extracting more value from your athlete endorsements.
The beauty of social media is the abundance of data that comes with it. Take this opportunity to determine a simple set of easily measured performance indicators that you will check on a regular basis. Dachis Group software allows you to easily track an athlete’s:
Rank all of your sponsored athletes (or prospective sponsored athletes) across all of the KPIs in question. Different brands will want to introduce different weightings. Brands with goals for awareness and consideration may weigh earned media impressions most highly in their rankings. Brands with products that can be purchased easily in a digital environment might be especially focused on clicks, or even on shopping cart behavior if analytics allow. The most important thing is to establish these quantitative rankings and track them closely so you can optimize later.
Coordinate your marketing campaigns with your athletes. Ensure that every athlete is using the correct links, hashtags, and verbiage in support of your brand messaging and campaign. This can be done in an easy, organized manner by using a centralized platform to coordinate activation.
Use closed loop measurement on content (one of the many benefits of publishing from a centralized platform) to track content performance, clicks, and even website behaviors. Look to understand not only each athlete in a vacuum but also overall contribution in the context of a larger campaign. Often the earned media bonus of sponsored athlete participation in a campaign will rival paid media dollars deployed in social.
You can also easily calculate an ROI from social participation by applying your typical CPM rates for social advertising to the impressions that athlete participation yields.
Using this framework, you can rank any given athlete’s brand contribution not only on the perceived ROI of your sponsorship but also on the actual earned media benefit the athlete is generating for your brand. Analyze content types that perform well with certain athlete’s audiences while taking account of seasonality, and take note of compliance with contract terms of social promotion.
Are you currently working with athlete or celebrity endorsers for your brand? If you would like to discuss your branded athlete’s social audiences, campaign management and our solutions, we would love to connect!