Nielsen to measure sports sponsorship

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Nielsen Sports, a division of New York-based Nielsen Media Research, is launching a service that, for the first time, will measure the value of a marketer's televised sports sponsorship.

"Sponsorship Scorecard" will soft-launch July 1 and roll out later this fall as a gauge for sports teams, marketers and media-buying agencies to determine the worth of the exposure companies receive by having signage inside a stadium, as well as broadcast promotions and audio mentions.

"A lot of sponsors came to us and asked how their signage and promotions could be measured," said Barbara Zidovsky, Nielsen's senior VP-sports marketing. "A lot of teams came to us and said they had all this real estate to work with but didn't know how to charge for it. We hope this is a solution for both sides."

Ms. Zidovsky said Nielsen has signed at least six sponsors and pro sports teams for the soft launch but declined to name them.

Stadium signage "might not be as effective as a 30-second spot in terms of getting your message across," said Neil Pilson, the former president of CBS Sports who now runs his own sports TV consultancy. "But given the right placement, it's going to get your brand out there." He went so far as to say that the signage will become the currency of choice when marketers are negotiating with teams.

Nielsen did a test run of Sponsorship Scorecard on April 16, when News Corp.'s Fox broadcast a Major League Baseball game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in prime time. It measured all sponsors that received at least five seconds of airtime or had a broadcast promotion and/or verbal mention throughout the three-hour telecast.

The service found that Fleet Bank, which has signage at Boston's Fenway Park on the dugouts and the outfield walls, received 84 impressions of at least five seconds, for a total of seven minutes and 22 seconds.

Each impression was time-stamped as to when it appeared in the telecast. Nielsen then took the quarter-hour ratings information from Fox and MLB, and determined the 84 hits for Fleet Bank resulted in a total 418 million impressions among adults 18 and over.

"If you're a corporate partner and a big advertiser, you'll take an interest in this," said Larry Novenstern, director-national broadcast buys for Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, New York. "But the usage of it is going to be different based on who you're talking to."

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