In the modern era, the pace of change in the sports sponsorship ecosystem has been extraordinary and continues to accelerate.

Over $60 billion was spent on sponsorship worldwide in 2018, by brands from across every type of brand category – a huge shift from only thirty years ago, when sponsorship was generally seen by marketers as a dark art and as an outlier from the traditional marketing disciplines. But now that sponsorship has conclusively proved its ability to provide huge business and brand value, companies that don’t use sponsorship in their marketing are the exception rather than the rule.

Equally, there has never been more choice or more opportunity for brands to acquire sponsorships, both from established rights holders and increasing numbers of new entrants from across sports and entertainment, who are bringing new sports, events and products to the market, from global to local and everything in between. Sponsorship of ESports, for example, has consistently grown by almost 50% annually since 2014 and is forecast to be worth well over $1billion by the end of 2020.

And if that wasn’t enough, the global tech platforms, along with a burgeoning array of new technologies and new tech players, are creating the biggest disruption in sport’s relationship with the media and, as a result, with consumers, since the mass adoption of television, with equally profound consequences for the sponsorship products that are being created as a result. Established rights holders are diversifying and evolving their sponsorship offerings, whereas the new entrants are re-writing the rules.

All in all, if you’re not somewhat overwhelmed, you’re not paying attention.

But in contrast, the business of selling sponsorship hasn’t changed much.

All that’s really changed is that there are a lot more sponsorships on the market, and an army of people selling them.

But the process of selling sponsorship is still rudimentary, being heavily reliant on unsolicited direct marketing.

And that’s holding back brands and rights holders from finding their perfect sponsorship partner quickly and efficiently.

For example, major brands receive hundreds if not thousands of sponsorship pitches every week, most of them shots in the dark which would require significant resources to analyse properly.

Of course, savvy brands don’t wait for the right sponsorship to come along: they pro-actively go looking for a perfect match with their criteria. But even then, brands face another big issue: how do they effectively cover and analyse such a big, growing and disaggregated market?

And on the selling side of the market, there’s a similar issue: how do rights holders and their sales agencies market their offering effectively at scale to brand-side decision-makers who are actually shopping for a sponsorship?

In both cases, the answer is, they can’t. And that’s been costing everyone a lot of time and money, and causing a lot of frustration, for a long time.

It was and is an outdated marketplace ripe for a breakthrough tech- and data-driven solution, resulting in a simpler, faster, better way of doing things.

And that solution has now arrived, in the form of Connexi – an online global sponsorship marketplace with a mission to make it easier for brands and rights holders to connect and engage with each other. It’s the Airbnb of sponsorship.

Connexi aggregates sponsorships into one place, deploys tech and data to enable brands to search for and identify the sponsorships most closely aligned with their criteria, and then connects the brands and rights holders involved.

And it’s working. Having launched only in late-2018, Connexi now has an impressive inventory of brands, agencies and rights holders actively using the platform and making faster and better connections. And those connections are leading to better partnerships, and better sponsorships.

The future’s bright for Connexi. And sponsorship marketing finally has the platform that it’s size and sophistication deserves.

Tim Crow

Tim Crow

Contributor


Non-executive director of Connexi.