The ROI of Brand Advertising – the warm up before the big match

I was delighted today to read a release from my ex-employer that they have just signed a 5 year deal with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) to be their official Analytics Partner. Among other things, this extends the types of data-rich viewer experience that has been pioneered on the Wimbledon.com website with IBM Slamtracker to the Rugby Fan (via IBM TryTracker).

It will be fascinating to see how the insights translate into the arena of Rugby. First chance for us all to see it will be on the opening Six Nations games this weekend via the RFU website.

I have to declare an interest. Having been at the centre of the IBM Rugby World Cup sponsorship with ITV  in 2011 it’s very gratifying to see the conversations started on the back of that campaign turning into significant strategic business. Of course, there’s been some outstanding engagement from the sales teams since then, and certainly the transfer of Ian Ritchie from the All England Tennis Club to be the RFU’s CEO last year won’t have done any harm. 

As a marketer the challenge with any significant brand campaign is always getting past the ROI hurdle. However forward thinking marketers know that there is always a balance to be struck between building a favourable selling environment (aka making a market) and capturing the demand from that market. While we often like to think that Demand Generation is all that matters, that simply is not the case – or perhaps more accurately we should view our branding activities as the warmup to the actual match. And we all know the risks of starting the game without some limbering up. 
So did the advertising campaign deliver a decent ROI. Today, 16 months after the campaign finished, I think we can say unreservedly that it did. However, as Adam Sharp of CleverTouch  remarked a while back – if your average sales cycle is longer than your campaign length, measuring the ROI is always going to be a challenge.

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