Sponsorship Rocks: fifteen-year study reveals effectiveness of broadcast sponsorship

Channel 4 Sales is unveiling the results of its Sponsorship Rocks study, the most comprehensive analysis of broadcast sponsorship effectiveness ever conducted. The study’s dataset, twice the size of the previous iteration of Sponsorship Rocks in 2017, now incorporates streaming data, creative coding, plus Barb reach and frequency data -offering unparalleled insights for brands. 

At a time when the media industry is faced with concerns about brand safety and transparency, the new research finds that broadcast sponsorship is the optimum environment for brands to align themselves with the positive attributes of the shows that audiences actively seek out. 

Rupinder Downie, sponsorship and commercial partnerships leader, Channel 4 Sales, said: “This study highlights how well sponsorships allow brands to draw on broadcasters’ unique mix of content, creativity and innovation. The debate around brand safety continues across all media platforms, therefore it is so encouraging to see research which shows broadcast sponsorship provides a reliable, transparent and effective platform for brands.” 

Channel 4 commissioned independent research agency Consumer Insight to aggregate effectiveness results from almost 240 sponsorships, including 666 of waves of research that involved speaking to over 400,000 viewers over the past fifteen years. Extensive analysis of this database reveals:

  • Sponsorship delivers impact across all key performance metrics. Compared to non-viewers of sponsorship, average percentage point uplifts are seen in awareness (+8%), consideration (+8%), brand perceptions (+7%), relevance (+5%) and trust (+6%). On average, over half of viewers will recall a sponsorship ident and almost a quarter will want to find out more about a brand having been exposed to a sponsorship. 
  • Long-term sponsorships amplify brands, with consideration of a sponsor that runs for over two years seeing a +20% higher boost in consideration versus a sponsorship that runs for 1-2 years.  
  • Frequency is a key virtue of sponsorship. Idents that have been seen more than 60 times see a +57% boost in prompted brand awareness, versus a campaign with an average frequency of under 60. 
  • Sponsorships improve with age, rather than wear out. When more than 20% of people agree that they are ‘getting fed up of seeing’ a sponsorship ident, this correlates to increased standout (+5%), but most notably boosts in awareness (+19%) and purchase intent (+30%) in comparison with when wear out is less than 10%. 
  • Sponsorship delivers impact at any size. There are no significant differences on the KPI performance of sponsorships with lower reach vs higher reach, this means a higher reach sponsorship will simply have the same impact but across a larger group. This makes sponsorship a valuable option for new to TV brands, or brands with smaller spends.  
  • Sponsorship particularly stands out to young audiences: among all audience groups, 16-34’s returned the highest recognition cut through notoriously a difficult to engage audience.  
  • Content alignment is key.  81% of respondents agreed that sponsors were appropriate to the content they were sponsoring. By closely aligning a brand’s creative to a sponsorship, brand metrics can be amplified, and key attributes of a programme, can transmit onto the brand.
  • Correct branding is a key driver of all other KPIS. There is a clear correlation between being able to correctly brand a sponsorship ident and first choice consideration.  
  • Product placement, licencing and sponsorship of clips on social media amplify the performance of sponsorship. Incremental gains across key KPIs can be seen with multiple touchpoints.  

Case study results 

A selection of brand partnership results from previous Channel 4 sponsorships, examined in this extensive study included: 

Bosch Home Appliances & Channel 4 Inspired Living 

  • Campaign cut through was exceptional, with an all-time high on all sponsorship recall metrics, particularly top of mind recall at 13% (+225% shift vs pre vs +46% norm). 
  • 87% of those who recall the idents are likely to purchase vs a norm of 60%. 

Sensodyne & Made In Chelsea 

  • After seeing the sponsorship, 59% of respondents said they were more likely to consider Sensodyne, a +12pp uplift vs. norms (47%). 
  • Claimed purchase increased significantly with 21% of non-viewers saying they had bought Sensodyne in the past 3 months, compared with 33% of viewers (+12pp increase). Claimed purchase behaviour of Sensodyne also surpassed a key competitor for the first time. 

Arnold Clark & Channel 4 Drama 

  • Arnold Clark has seen exceptional brand growth over the past 3 years of sponsoring Drama on 4, closing the gap on the market leader, for salience and perceptions – notably as a trusted dealership, offering quality customer service alongside a wide range of cars and the best deals on the market. 
  • Arnold Clark is growing faster than competitors for first choice dealership, with +50% increase in visits and purchases at Arnold Clark for viewers vs. the start of the sponsorship. 

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