Sponsorships are a multibillion-dollar business. However knowledge on sponsorships, like who’s sponsoring who, might be robust to return by due to the varied types they take — and channels on which these sponsorships happen (suppose not solely web sites and social media posts but additionally bodily signage and even sports activities group jerseys). For each manufacturers and the recipients of sponsorships, the dearth of knowledge presents a problem. Manufacturers don’t all the time know the way a lot to cost sponsors, whereas sponsors aren’t persistently conscious of sponsorship offers at present in place.
Pissed off by the sponsorship area’s opaqueness, Bob Lynch, the previous VP of company partnerships for the Miami Dolphins, in 2017 based SponsorUnited, a software-as-a-service platform that gives analytics knowledge on the sponsorship business. SponsorUnited claims to trace over one million sponsorships throughout 250,000 manufacturers, together with each U.S.-based main league sports activities group.
“Once I joined the Miami Dolphins after a decade in media, I instantly realized there was vital complexity and an absence of transparency and standardization inside sponsorships, making it arduous for manufacturers and groups to optimally associate,” Lynch informed TechCrunch in an e mail interview. “Noticing an analogous pattern within the NBA and area occasions whereas with the Brooklyn Nets, I spotted that when you might democratize entry to beforehand inaccessible sponsorship deal knowledge that the complete business would need entry to it.”
Lynch says that SponsorUnited is serving roughly 2,900 manufacturers and properties, together with Fortune 500 corporations, expertise and model businesses and media corporations — and traders appear happy with the expansion to this point. SponsorUnited at present closed a $35 million Sequence A funding spherical led by Spectrum Fairness at a postmoney valuation “north of” $100 million. Paired with earlier investments from Milwaukee Bucks proprietor Marc Lasry and San Diego Padres co-owner Ron Fowler, the infusion brings the startup’s whole raised to $38.6 million.
“Up so far, SponsorUnited had raised minimal capital, preferring to remain lean whereas constructing our knowledge seize infrastructure and platform,” Lynch stated. “However as we’ve gained essential mass past properties (e.g., groups and occasions) with manufacturers, media, businesses and worldwide growth, we noticed a chance to additional speed up development by automating and scaling precious knowledge.”
Lynch describes SponsorUnited as “the Bloomberg terminal of promoting partnerships.” It’s basically a search layer on prime of a database of sports activities, esports, music, leisure and media sponsorship offers, manufacturers and properties. SponsorUnited acquires all the info instantly with out tapping into third-party sources, and it serves it in a means that permits corporations to mix it with different knowledge round sponsorship, together with inner spend, return on funding and engagement.
A cursory Google search reveals a number of corporations making an attempt to resolve the identical drawback as SponsorUnited. There’s GlobalData, the sports-focused SportBusiness and SponsorPitch, to call a number of. When requested about these rivals and others, Lynch identified that SponsorUnited tracks extra classes of sponsorships than most and has invested closely in its tech stack, which makes use of each automated and guide strategies to compile sponsorship knowledge.
“We’ve got cultivated, refreshed, and expanded an enormous repository of data — over 5 million knowledge factors on greater than 500 asset varieties,” Lynch stated. “We proceed to spend money on know-how to scale and replicate the processes by which sponsorship knowledge is tracked.”
So what’s subsequent for SponsorUnited? Lynch says he’s monitoring traits like sponsorships within the metaverse (to the extent they’re a factor), faculty athlete offers enabled by final yr’s Supreme Courtroom resolution, and TikTok’s rising attain with youthful audiences. The pandemic was and continues to be a boon for SponsorUnited, he says, as advertising organizations search to trace how offers shift from stay occasions to digital.
In probably excellent news for SponsorUnited, a 2021 survey from Caravel Advertising and marketing discovered that 52% of companies deliberate to extend their budgets for sports activities group sponsorships in 2022, with solely 16% projecting a lower in spending. Lynch makes the case that these spenders will be predisposed to subscribe to SponsorUnited’s providers even when the economic system in the end takes a dip; when budgets tighten, it turns into crucial to find the proper partnerships and “optimize” present sponsorships, he asserts.
“The complexity and variety of advertising belongings and platforms being purchased and bought on this business is rising at an exponential tempo,” Lynch stated. “Our knowledge gives precious insights not solely to IT however throughout the C-suite — chief advertising officers, chief income officers, chief buyer officers and others.”
Stamford, Connecticut–primarily based SponsorUnited — which isn’t revealing income figures — expects to have 100 workers by the tip of the yr, Lynch added.