In Measurement Essentials Part 1, ESP SR shared the essential elements of measuring sponsorship success, as well as the role that properties play in the process.

In the second part of the two-part series, ESP SR looks at measuring success across the three primary sponsorship objectives, the pros and cons of each objective, and best practices when going down the measurement road.

Below, tips, tactics and best practices on measuring sponsorship success.

Corporate sponsorship objectives typically fall into one of three buckets: visibility, awareness and attitudes, and behavior.

The three objectives begin with what’s easiest to measure (visibility) and end with what is most difficult to measure (behavior). Did the sponsorship result in someone purchasing a sponsor’s product or service?

While behavior is more difficult to measure, changes in behavior can have a direct impact on a sponsor’s bottom line. Visibility and awareness, on the other hand, typically have a more indirect impact on a company’s balance sheet.

Objective #1: Visibility
Visibility is about generating exposure in front of as many consumers as possible. That can include a sponsor’s logo on signage, on a banner or in a media buy.

While many companies want to build awareness, they should be careful about using sponsorship to accomplish that goal.    

Many sponsors have legitimate reasons to gain exposure for their brand, particularly new companies or a company that is moving into a new market where its brand may not be known. Those types of companies want as many impressions as possible.

On the flip side, a company with wide brand recognition doesn’t need impressions—everyone already knows their brand. The company is going to be more interested in making a specific connection with its audience. As result, the company will be more interested in other forms of measurement, including how a sponsorship changes a consumer’s behavior.

Another challenge with visibility: sponsorship very rarely outperforms traditional advertising in terms of generating impressions. Unless the sponsorship includes a broadcast component that will be seen by millions of people on television, a sponsorship is almost never going to be as impactful as advertising in terms of reaching the greatest number of people.

The Pros and Cons Of Media Equivalencies


  • Exposure levels compared to prior years or cosponsors
  • Most/least valuable areas for ID
  • Clarity of sponsor branding

Does not reveal:

  • Recall: Is anyone aware of the sponsorship?
  • Persuasiveness: Does anyone care?
  • Message: What was expressed?
  • Effect: Did anyone’s behavior change?

Objective #2: Awareness/Attitudes
Sponsors can track awareness and attitudes to determine if anyone knows a company is a sponsor, and if they do know about the sponsorship, do they care? Has the sponsorship changed their feelings about the company? Will they change their behavior based on a sponsor’s goals and objectives?

There are two types of awareness: aided awareness and unaided awareness.

Aided awareness is when someone recognizes a sponsor from a list of sponsors, while unaided awareness is when someone recalls a sponsor on their own.

With aided awareness, a sponsor asks the question “Which of the following banks do you associate with property X?” With unaided awareness, the question is “What bank was a sponsor of this event that you just attended?”

ESP has developed two benchmarks for measuring sponsor awareness.

The benchmarks apply to two types of properties: cluttered properties, or those with a lot of sponsors, and uncluttered properties, or those with just a handful of sponsors.

One would expect there to be a higher level of recognition and awareness in an uncluttered environment, so the benchmarks are higher for those types of properties.

With unaided recall, sponsors should expect 30 percent of people at a cluttered property to remember their brand as a sponsor. In the less cluttered environment, sponsors should expect about half of the audience to remember them.

People are expected to do better with aided recall because they can choose the sponsor from a list of potential brands. So here the numbers are higher. Two-thirds of the audience in a cluttered environment should remember the sponsor, while 80 percent should remember the sponsor in a less cluttered environment.

ESP Awareness Benchmarks

Property Type Minimum
Unaided: Cluttered property 30%
Unaided: Fewer sponsors 50%
Aided: Cluttered property 67%
Aided: Fewer sponsors 80%

Objective #2.1: Attitudes
One of the things that sponsorship can do, and often does, is impact how people perceive a sponsor.

If done right, sponsors get an image transfer from the property (cutting-edge, high-performance, etc.) or are seen as the enabler of a great experience.

Below are factors sponsors can measure in terms of attitudes. How do people feel about the company? What was the impact of the sponsorship on those feelings? The answers to those questions can reveal some interesting findings.  

  • Image attributes of brand/company
  • Measure the image transfer from the property to the sponsor
  • Positive/negative impression of brand/company
  • Likelihood of purchasing brand/company products
  • Compare attitudes of people exposed to the sponsorship compared to those who were not exposed

Schweppes’ sponsorship of a Formula 1 team illustrates the positive impact a sponsorship can have in changing attitudes about a brand. People who were aware of the sponsorship had more positive associations of Schweppes than people who weren’t aware of the sponsorship.

What’s interesting about the results is that none of Schweppes’ product attributes (mixes with alcohol, refreshing, etc.) had anything do with auto racing. The takeaway: sponsorship can have a strong impact on how people think about a brand even when there is not an obvious relationship between the brand and the property. 


Objective #3: Behavior
The third measurement objective is behavior. Will a consumer take a specific action because of the sponsorship?

The objectives can include the following:

  • Incremental sales
  • Size and value of database generated
  • Response to direct mail offer
  • Amount of incremental traffic
  • Response to bounceback/coupon offers

And it’s not always the consumer whose behavior a sponsor might want to influence. In many cases, it can involve wholesalers, retailers, distributors and other companies that play a role in getting product into a consumer’s hands.

Sponsors need to measure the impact of sponsorship on those channels as well. Are they responsive to sponsorship-themed displays? That information should also be tracked and measured in terms of driving behavior.

Whatever the objective, behavior is the best indicator of how the sponsorship has impacted the sponsor’s bottom line.