From broadcast to social: GumGum’s Sam Grimley on the changing world of sport sponsorship

SportsPro caught up with Sam Grimley, commercial director of GumGum, to discuss the ever-changing sports sponsorship landscape and how digital media has affected the way in which brand exposure is measured.

From broadcast to social: GumGum’s Sam Grimley on the changing world of sport sponsorship

The social media landscape has never been bigger, with the industry taking on an increasingly influential role in providing a platform from which brands can grow.

Sam Grimley is the commercial director at GumGum, a computer vision company with a focus on calculating the value of sponsorship – not only through broadcast media, but also across social media platforms.

SportsPro spoke to Grimley about the growth of sport on digital platforms, GumGum’s formula for analysing exposure and how brands are adjusting their strategies in order to cope with the changing environment of sports media rights business.

What makes GumGum different?

Sponsorship valuation has traditionally been done around broadcast because that’s where consumers have consumed sport since day one. What GumGum does though is looks at consumer habits. I haven’t watched any T20 cricket on television this season, although I’ve seen a fair bit at the stadium. However, I’ve seen every single six, every incredible catch, every mishap. I’ve seen it all on social.

We are consuming more and more content on social media – whether it’s just highlights or full games. GumGum looks to address how right holders and brands can put a new value to their sponsorship spending or sponsorship sales. Using computer vision and artificial intelligence (AI), we look not only at broadcast, but also at streaming and OTT and we also do that across social media.

GumGum announced a partnership with English county cricket club Middlesex back in June

What makes us massively different from everyone else is that because we focus on computer vision technology and AI, we can find exposures related to a club and a brand across all of social media. For example, with our work with Middlesex CCC, we’re not just looking at posts that come from their own account or posts that come from their own players.

We’re also looking for things that may come from Yorkshire, or stuff that may come from Surrey’s account or Surrey’s players. We are finding those exposures, those images and those videos across social media.

That’s what makes us different from a technology side. And then you’ve got the fact that it’s all automated and we have our computers doing it. We don’t have any time delays that others might have. We have this information back to brands and right holders in days so they are not waiting six to eight weeks to give those numbers back.

Do you think traditional broadcast sport is under threat from digital and social platforms?

In terms of whether it will change, I don’t think live sport on broadcast is going to go away anytime soon. I think it’s probably the only form of TV I watch that’s live. In terms of finding more highlights – you look at that Chris Gayle catch in the Canadian T20 and five years ago, you would never have seen that catch unless you were watching a Canadian T20 broadcast. The odds on you doing that are unlikely – you’d have to find the game on a particular channel, it might be behind a paywall, then you’d have to watch the whole game just to catch that one moment.

I do think that social is going to get bigger and I do think that clubs are beginning to embrace what their players do rather than controlling them too much. Social is getting bigger and that’s not because of the broadcast, but because of the content creators. It’s non-stop.

What’s the crux of the way in which GumGum measures brand exposure?

We take in every exposure – whether that’s images or videos – and then we use six factors to score them out of 100 per cent. We ask what would it cost a brand to purchase that same level of engagement on those platforms.

So if it would cost a brand UK£1,000 to reach the same amount of audience that a post got from a football club, but then we scored the football club’s response at 50 per cent, we would then value that at 50 per cent of what the market rate would have been, which would be UK£500. We do that for every single exposure.

We don’t take ten minutes of a football match and then multiply it by nine. We don’t do that because the risk of that is if you’re working for TAG in the Premier League, their branding doesn’t even appear until half-time and substitutes and added time in the second half. That’s why we watch it all and we take in every single exposure and we consider the share of the voice as well.

Welsh rugby team Scarlets signed kit sponsorship deals with 18 different companies ahead of the 2018/19 season.

You look at something like the Scarlets, who’ve got 18 sponsors on their new kit. They may be getting more deals there but what’s the value? Is it too cluttered, is it perfect, have they got the right balance? We can distinguish all that for them.

We also track rivals – we can tell a client which of their rival teams created the most value for them. If Manchester United are playing at the Vitality against Bournemouth at the end of the game Jose Mourinho goes off to do his press conference and is stood in front of the Bournemouth advertising boards, which has the Bournemouth partners on them and not the United ones.

You are going to get interest there from United fans and then also from people who are watching Mourinho because he might say something a little bit risqué. If he does do that and that gets picked up by the media, he is doing that while stood in front of the Vitality logo and the Mansion logo and the Puma logo, which ends up bringing value for Bournemouth’s partners.

You look at something like the Scarlets, who’ve got 18 sponsors on their new kit. They may be getting more deals there but what’s the value? Have they got the right balance? We can distinguish all that for them

What effect has the Premier League sleeve sponsor opportunity had on the industry?

One of the challenges to the rights holders and the brands was actually the loosening of these restrictions. It meant that you had all the clubs with the same asset going to market at the same time.

Manchester United did the clever thing of holding off at first and now they’ve probably got more out of that shirt sleeve sponsor than anyone else with their Kohler deal. It was the same in the NBA with the patch. In terms of the shirt sleeve, it varies because of the exposure.

The shirt sleeve didn’t have anything on it beforehand and with footballers, a lot of the coverage is from side-on. If you’ve got a front-on view, you’re not going to see it as much.

How much of a direct correlation is there between on-field success and what your automated calculations reveal?

Let’s take the Everton 22-0 game in preseason – the goalkeeper has an absolute howler. I have not seen 21 of those goals but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the 22nd goal where the goalkeeper walks out the way.

But actually, in terms of branding, I can’t see anything on the Everton shirt because it’s from the back. You’d say from the opposition’s point of view, that losing 22-0 is massively negative. But the coverage for the goalkeeper is really high.

What happens next?

I think you are going to start seeing it where some of the advertising is contextual. In terms of LED in the Premier League at the moment, the advertising isn’t aimed at myself in London. It’s aimed at other parts of the world but I’m still watching and seeing it.

It can’t be too long before we see very much targeted advertising on live broadcast. In terms of where the rest of it is going to go, I think there will be more and more rights fought for between people who are not traditional broadcasters.

You look at BT Sport walking away from UFC and the NBA because they don’t think they’re getting value for money for what they want to pay. That’s interesting because the two big boys in the UK – Sky and BT – previously were outbidding each other, thinking they have to get them.

As Grimley suggests, much of the Premier League's LED advertising no longer targets the local fan.