TV sponsorships 'remain resilient' and drive long-term brand health in face of digital headwinds, finds Thinkbox

TV sponsorships remain resilient advertising medium that drive long-term brand health

Thinkbox-commissioned research by YouGov and House 51 has found that TV sponsorships drive long-term brand health and awareness with viewers at a time when digital advertising often leans on short-term gain.

The research found that sponsoring a TV show raises brand awareness for all brands. Interestingly, this is particularly poignant in lesser-known brands, which found both their brand and advertising awareness scores were substantially higher for viewers of the TV shows they sponsored.

Viewers of a sponsored TV show are 10% more likely to believe that sponsoring brand is popular than non-viewers, and are twice as fast as non-viewers to recommend the sponsoring brand.

What’s more, the research found that whilst ad awareness fell “as expected” in the six months following the end of a TV sponsorship, brand health metrics decayed at a far slower rate. On average, looking at 16 completed sponsorships one month after they ended, the key brand health measures were unchanged.

To conduct the research, House 51 used a blend of mobile self-ethnographies, filmed depth-interviews, and a quantitative survey across eight TV sponsorships, each time interviewing 300 viewers/non-viewers, to understand the mechanics of how TV sponsorship drives brand affinity.

YouGov combined their Brand Index database with their TV programme database (both of which survey the attitudes of 4,000 people every day) to look for evidence of the impact TV sponsorships deliver for brand health.

TV sponsorships are most effective when part of a fully integrated campaign, with fully integrated sponsorships increasing brand health metrics by 8.9% points above non-viewers compared with a ‘badging only’ sponsorship approach which delivered a 2.8% point increase in brand health.

Data from WARC suggests that TV sponsorships have stayed relatively steady at about 5% of TV ad spend since 2010, so in absolute terms spend has gradually grown in line with the whole TV market.

Sponsorships have remained a resilient medium in the face of ever-increasing competition for ad spend from the digital giants, leading TV ad spend to fall nearly 2.1% in the final quarter of 2016, and is predicted to decrease by a further 0.5% in 2017, according to the latest Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report.

“I think sponsorships have been resilient because they serve a valuable and hard-to-substitute purpose,” said Joseph Evans, senior research analyst at Enders Analysis. “Digital ads are mostly focused on activation: driving clicks, installs and sales in the short term. TV sponsorships are focused on building awareness and improving brand perception over the long term, and the ability of digital to really build brands in this way remains mostly unproven.

Internet ad spend is expected to surpass that of traditional television for the first time this year, according to the Advertising Expenditure Forecast released by Zenith, despite the ongoing brand safety and transparency crisis which engulfed platforms like YouTube and Facebook in the first half of the year.

“Looking ahead, the line between TV-like content online and “traditional” TV content are blurring, as smart TVs, broadcaster VOD services and the delivery of TV content over IP become more prevalent. Broadcasters will be able to sell sponsorships of TV shows watched online and on-demand, while digital media companies will sell sponsorships of things that look very similar; distinguishing between the two will be less and less useful,” Evans added.

Matt Hill, Thinkbox’s research and planning director, said: “People judge you by the company you keep, and this is at the heart of TV sponsorship’s power. Marketers need to know that their investments make a real difference to their brands – this research enables them to do just that.

“Crucially, we’ve found very strong evidence that TV sponsorships’ impact is long lasting and that, if advertisers want to see them work at their hardest, they should ensure they’re integrated with the rest of their advertising and making use of the additional promotional tools the broadcasters provide.”

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Jessica Goodfellow

The Drum's media reporter covering everything from publishing, TV, social media, radio and technology.

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