Nick Mountain | 3rd April 2018

The Importance of Data in Sports Sponsorship, a Case Study: UEFA and Booking.com

Data is becoming an increasingly important asset to rightsholders, and never more so than when it comes to securing sponsorships. In an exclusive preview taken from our upcoming publication ‘Winning With Data: CRM and Analytics for the Business of Sports’, Winners can reveal how UEFA’s shrewd use of data played a vital role in securing the multi-year sponsorship deal with Booking.com.

In October 2017, UEFA and Booking.com announced a 4-year global partnership to become the Official Accommodation and Attractions Booking Partner for all UEFA national team football competitions from 2018 to 2022.

Traditionally, negotiations for sponsorships have evolved around the more common rights that UEFA could provide, such as advertising or corporate hospitality. When partnering with Booking.com, it was the way that fans were digitally engaging with UEFA and how that data was stored in their database that played a significant role in brokering the deal.

Peter Willems, the Head of Marketing Activities and Sponsorship at UEFA, shared some interesting insights into the way that the discussion over this sponsorship differed to others.

“It was the first negotiation we’ve had where there was more talk about data and digital than anything else.”

Steps Taken by UEFA

In the lead up to the Booking.com discussions, UEFA focused on learning more about their fans and implementing a centralised database, ensuring the on-going health and consistency of their data.

“We’re in a very fortunate position. We could see the direction the sports industry was heading in the way it dealt with sponsorships, so three years ago we started to build our own data capabilities” Willems continued. 

Having started the build of an SCV, where each fan and their interests exists as an individual, they layered this with an interactive dashboard to present the data in a way that enabled immediate access to information.  Most importantly, the data visualisation was presented in a way that’s relevant for UEFA’s team of marketers, providing the key insights that answer both their internal questions, and the information relevant to their sponsors, as demonstrated during the Booking.com negotiations.

“We could already tell you how many viewers in Brazil watched the EURO 2016 Final on their televisions, how many social followers we have in Indonesia, the age groups of our website visitors. But for Booking.com, and all our negotiations moving forward, we need to know more than that. We need to know our fans by their names, where each and every one of them lives, we have to understand their interests at an individual level, and we have to know how they like to engage with us.”

The collection of fan data is an on-going job, but at this stage UEFA know who their fans are, and can pinpoint their interests at a ‘per record’ level. This is invaluable information for a sponsorship deal and will be fully utilised by Booking.com as they seek to provide an individually tailored experience to UEFA’s fans.

 The Partnership in Action

One of the aims of the sponsorship for both parties is to help UEFA improve their fan experiences with tailored travel deals and recommendations. The more information that UEFA has on their followers, the better service and fan experience they can offer, tailoring news the fans want about the teams they support, their favourite players, and their history in UEFA tournaments. And, when it comes to the fans that have bought tickets to attend UEFA matches, this collaboration with Booking.com will provide relevant travel information, further supporting the personalised approach.

Booking.com’s ad management platform and algorithms ensure accuracy in their approach to remarketing and retargeting which, when combined with UEFA’s active database, will be a powerful partnership.

Willems adds “As any good digital marketer knows, we have to ensure a balance of providing the adverts that will genuinely benefit the fans and won’t become intrusive or annoying.  That’s one of the many benefits of our digital world; we can track the number of times our fans see these adverts to ensure they’re kept to a minimum, we can ensure they only see the ones that are relevant to them, and once they’re no longer relevant we can turn them off”.

If you would like to discuss how data can drive your sponsorship strategy and more, please get in touch.

The Importance of Data in Sports Sponsorship, a Case Study: UEFA and Booking.com

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