There are only 10 days left in 2015 and it feels like there really haven’t been that many Top 10 lists out there, so here’s a special Marketing:Sports version.

This list is 100% based on our data, hundreds of major companies all very active in sponsorship, and not based on some editor’s opinion of the marketplace.

In analyzing all the files that live in the online tool that many companies use to manage all of their sponsorships (53,000+ in 2015), we are able to share that the volume of files related to sports actually decreased a slight 4%. Sports still remain the largest slice of the overall sponsorship industry (followed by arts and festivals/fairs).

The results may seem surprising as what dominates sports sponsorships are not necessarily what we all see on TV with NFL games and other major sports. Rather, the majority of sponsorships (not talking about money here) take place at a much more grassroots level.

In order of volume of activities (least to greatest):

10. Track and field events

9. Minor League Baseball

8. Sport associations (e.g., National Association for Youth Sports)

7. Softball

6. College football

5. Amateur/youth soccer

4. Triathlons

3. Golf

2. Cycling

And the most popular category of sponsorships in the U.S. in 2015 were …

1. Road races/marathons

Notables that fell out of the 2014 Top 10 include college basketball and extreme sports. Tennis, fishing and auto racing all remain on the fringe.

The key takeaway is that the sports sponsorship landscape is ever changing. Brands are in a constant battle to drive fan engagement, impact brand perception, and deliver against a number of strategic objectives.

Identifying brand KPIs can be an arduous enough task, but developing the right relationships and examining the right potential sport properties to partner with is why this is such a fun business. Here’s to having even more fun in 2016.

 

By Seth Leeds, MediaPost.com, December 21, 2015

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