In the final instalment of our series, SportQuake CEO Matt House offers insights into the growth of online trading investment into football sponsorship, documenting the origins and developments of the trend, along with key insights and reasons as to why it shows no signs of slowing down.
To find out more about how SportQuake can help your brand to achieve your business goals through football, get in touch with Patrick McColgan at [email protected] and sign up to the football and fintech panel discussion at Finance Magnates Virtual Summit.
Football: The world’s most popular sport, now a global entertainment business
Over the past 20 years the football industry has boomed, transforming into a global entertainment business where the top clubs and players are brands in their own right.
Underpinned by a unique, relentless content schedule revolving around a heady 24/7 mix of live games and non-match day lifestyle content, all created and distributed on a global basis through club, player, ad funded and user generated platforms.
These multiple engagement opportunities spanning TV, digital, social and experiential platforms have made football an incredibly attractive proposition for advertisers to create impact and drive growth at scale.
Online trading and football, investment tipping point
It’s ten years since FxPro became the first online trading brand to invest in football back in 2010 – as front-of-shirt sponsor of Aston Villa and Fulham – before Plus500’s front-of-shirt sponsorship of Atletico Madrid in 2015, and the last five years have seen a steady flow of online trading brands experimenting with football sponsorship as a platform to drive growth.
As we look forward it’s interesting to note that this pattern of investment is starting to look very similar to that of online sports betting and football, with three distinct phases of adoption.
Firstly, the ‘icebreaker phase’, where a small number of well-funded innovators kick off the market with big deals (tick). Secondly an ‘early adopters’ phase, with which sports betting ran for a period of five years (tick). Then finally a ‘mainstream adoption’ phase.
If indeed online trading is following this investment cycle, then it looks like we are in the process of moving from the ‘early adopter’ phase and into the ‘mainstream’ phase where, strengthened by Covid-19 and other positive developments to their businesses, current online trading spenders will start to double down and new entrants will join en masse, seeking to replicate the early adopters and capitalise on the many opportunities that still exist in football to drive growth.
To provide some context for how much headroom there still is for online trading to grow in football, as of 2020, the online sports betting sector is still a massive 5X bigger than the online trading sector in football – £350m/ 315 partnerships vs. £60m/ 43 partnerships.
Football marketing strategies, innovation and business integration
The football ecosystem is wide and diverse, encompassing a huge range of buying opportunities in order to support a range of brand specific goals.
There’s no vanity spend anymore. All partnerships that we work on are deeply integrated between the brand and rights owner, typically starting with an in-depth interrogation of brand requirements before mapping with the global football ecosystem to determine the right strategies and partnerships to drive pre agreed goals.
Marketing rights are extensive and bespoke but most commonly centre around use of club and player IP, match day branding, access to talent, match hospitality and access to rights owners’ digital and social channels.
We are also seeing real creativity. One that really stands out is when we worked with eToro to capitalise on the mainstream coverage of the 2017 Bitcoin bull run in a unique, attention grabbing way for them when we partnered them with the Premier League, paying for the partnership in bitcoin.
Another one from this autumn is when we partnered Axi with Manchester City to be the central platform to announce their new brand globally, to all stakeholders (B2C, B2B, Staff), when they moved from AxiTrader to Axi.
Proof Points, online trading and wider financial services
Having worked across over 500 partnerships, helping over 250 companies from more than 20 countries plan and buy football partnerships, the number one thing our emerging markets and new economy brand clients come back for is the media buy, providing the communications platform to build and grow brands quickly and cost effectively vs. other media.
Alongside the media buy, the other key element is the positive impact football sponsorship has on brand credibility and trust – from government relations and B2B relationships to giving prospective customers the confidence to deposit and transact with your brand.
Football clubs and players are well known around the world, amongst key demographics and by partnering with these properties, brands benefit from the positive halo effect to their own public image.
From a budgeting perspective, the other key benefit of football sponsorship for multi-market businesses, like online trading platforms, lies in the global nature of leading football properties.
Both offering a genuine focal point for brand marketing activity and large economies of scale where a single investment, with one central sponsorship strategy, can be leveraged throughout the sales funnel to help drive business goals across all key markets.
Doing this, we have found combining global football partnerships with performance marketing spend is now a really proven and effective way to get the message out there bigger, faster, better, including driving sales. Growing the market as well as taking market share.
Finally, the ultimate proof point of success and the tangible ROI football sponsorship delivers is in the large number of smart people that have invested in big long-term partnerships and come back and renewed, including global leaders from eToro and Plus500 to Standard Chartered and AIA.
Looking forward: We’re only just getting started
Football’s relentless growth shows no sign of slowing with renewed talks of break-away European and global football leagues dominating the current agenda amongst the world’s leading clubs.
These plans, bankrolled by the world’s leading banks, highlight how the world’s smart money still sees considerable headroom in the global football industry and so do we.
Matt House is CEO of SportQuake. SportQuake connect brands with the global football phenomenon. Specifically helping new economy brands incl. online sports betting and online trading brands plan and buy high profile global partnerships that drive growth.
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