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SBJ/Dec. 20-26, 2010/2010 NASCAR Brand Leaderboard
Lower ad rates drive down exposure value
Published December 20, 2010
A drop in advertising rates and changes in the sponsorship landscape led to a decline in the overall exposure value earned by companies that aligned themselves with NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series in 2010, according to the results of an annual study conducted by Image Impact and SportsBusiness Journal/Daily.
For the 2010 season, the measured companies drew $1.6 billion in value for their brands through their NASCAR Sprint Cup association, according to the study. That’s down 16 percent from $1.9 billion last year and down more than 5 percent from $1.69 billion in 2008, even though increases were seen in the number of sponsor impressions made and the sponsors’ on-screen time.
Series title sponsor Sprint was the leader in brand value received, and Lowe’s, sponsor of five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson, ranked fifth, but each saw a double-digit decline in value (see chart, right).
This is the fourth straight year SportsBusiness Journal/Daily has teamed with Kansas City-based sponsorship measurement firm Image Impact to measure the exposure received by companies doing business with Sprint Cup drivers and TV partners. This year’s research captured more than 238,000 sponsor impressions during more than 321 hours of total brand on-screen time through NASCAR’s 36-race Sprint Cup Series schedule plus the Sprint All-Star Race. Each of these areas of measurement was up compared with 2009.
That growth came despite there being nine fewer hours of broadcast time in 2010, largely because the broadcast length of most prerace segments was reduced.
The primary reason for the total value decline, according to Image Impact, was that the average rate-card price of a 30-second network spot during a Sprint Cup race dropped to $138,357 this season, down 25 percent compared with 2009. The total dollar-value calculation is based on these prices. Johnson’s sponsors, for example, netted 19,194 detections, up 10 percent compared with 2009, but the monetary value of that exposure dropped 21 percent.
Longtime media-buying executive Larry Novenstern said the decline in NASCAR viewership has indeed meant that advertisers are getting less bang for their buck.
“Any drop in ad rates, while it does have something to do with supply and demand in available inventory, still means there are fewer eyeballs watching the event and therefore less value [in the impression],” said Novenstern, now working as a consultant after leaving Optimedia in March.
Another reason for the drop in overall value was more visible to race fans. During the 2010 race season, just nine brands were displayed on the same NASCAR hood for all 36 Sprint Cup races. With more primary and secondary brands splitting drivers’ seasons, sharing hood and panel space during races, there are more logos spotted on cars, pit crews and driver uniforms.
Roush Fenway Racing President Geoff Smith said the trend away from singular, featured sponsorships began prior to the recent recession, but the continued challenge of a difficult economy accelerated the trend because shrinking marketing budgets forced sponsors to do more with less.
“In many cases, sponsors have lowered investments and are getting the same yield,” he said. “They’re giving up some exposure, but if they’ve done a good job marketing and have promoted their driver, then they’re not losing much.”
For the survey, detections of 717 primary and secondary car and driver partners were analyzed, along with all race venue signs and on-screen graphics and audio mentions from the races’ TV broadcasts. Eighty-five sponsored locations were measured in areas ranging from leaderboard graphics that viewers see on their TV screens to exposure a sponsor may have received by having its logo on a trophy.
Video feeds from each race were broken down and evaluated for all brand detections that occurred on screen and were clear and in focus for at least one full second. Each of those individual detections was then evaluated based on its duration, average size, location and relative isolation (or lack thereof) from competing brands: Was the logo a featured image on the screen or was it shown among other sponsors?
Because location and clarity significantly affected the measured value of each detection, quantity did not always translate into increased value. Also, for the purpose of summary calculations, each audio mention was assigned a duration of five seconds.
Although many of the impressions did not come about as a result of a direct media buy, using rate-card prices creates a level playing field. For example, Infineon and Auto Club of California have naming-rights deals at tracks and received credit for brand exposure through those deals even though they did not sponsor a driver or telecast.
Companies that bought on-screen enhancements (not including commercial spots) gained significant value. For example, Verizon (250 detections) and AT&T (683 detections) are prohibited from sponsoring Sprint Cup drivers because of NASCAR’s deal with Sprint. They received their exposure exclusively through broadcast sponsorships, with Fox delivering the bulk of it.
Among the other findings:
Winning isn’t everything: For the second straight season, in 20 of the 37 races monitored, the driver who delivered the most value for his sponsors was not the winner of the race.
GoDaddy was in the first year of a primary sponsorship on Mark Martin’s No. 5 car. The company generated $22.4 million in value this season (No. 19 among all brands), up from $1.7 million in 2009, when the company’s primary presence came through a race title sponsorship.
DirecTV increased its broadcast presence this year, more than doubling its exposure value over 2009, to $36.1 million. The company’s logo was displayed for 2 hours, 41 minutes, an increase of 50 minutes compared with 2009.
Further results, including leaders by industry segment and driver, can be seen on the pages that follow.