Navigate Research

Industry Insights

As the industry leader in evaluating and measuring marketing investments, Navigate has a wealth of knowledge in the sponsorship and marketing space. This blog shares our knowledge and insights on current events in the sports business, marketing and sponsorship worlds.

Steer Clear of the "Cow Path" in Research

Navigate Research - Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Written by Shaelyn McCole

A cow is left in a field and knows its only chance for survival is water. With no prior knowledge of the best route to find it, the cow eventually finds a path that leads to an abundant source of water.  The next time the cow’s life is threatened with no source of water, it chooses the same path, not because it is the best or most efficient route, but because it worked the first time. 
If a brand is tasked with measuring its year over year performance, or a property needs to understand the impact of a multi-year sponsorship, it will most likely execute the same research process that was used in years’ prior.  Not because it is still the best way to address its business objectives, but because the research provided some useful information the first time.
On one hand, incorporating research into the decision making process is a huge step in the right direction.  That said, in the commitment to ongoing measurement and research, it’s easy to lose sight of the reason the research was designed in the first place.  Just because a study generates data and information, doesn’t make it useful research.  Strong research answers a particular need or problem.  Actionable research evolves beyond stats and data tables; it creates insight driven direction and growth. 
So how does one avoid the ‘cow path’ pitfall and only invest in research that is relevant and purposeful?  Below are two keys to getting the most from your research!
1. Keep the design and analysis simple 
It’s easy to get lost in the plethora of analyses and data cuts that can be added to a research study.  However, the more the data is sliced and diced, the further away you get from the core analysis.  By slide 100, who remembers the key insights anymore?  Additionally, an overly complex design or analysis can complicate the ability to compare to future studies and create less flexibility to evolve future comparisons.  
2. Use an evolving, integrative approach
Research studies should take into account the findings from prior years (or waves).  Learnings from prior projects should guide the recommendations for future research.  As best practices and comparable industry data become available, find ways to tie them into your research.

Is Soccer Boring?

Navigate Research - Thursday, July 23, 2015

Written by Dr. Mark Friederich

After 16 long years, the US women’s national team has finally reached the pinnacle of women’s soccer for the third time. The 5:2 triumph over Japan in the Finals at BC Place in Vancouver, Canada was truly a magnificent sports spectacle on several levels. 

Just a few quick facts:

  • Total attendance over the four-weeks was nearly 1.4 M
    • 7 matches had over 50,000 fans in attendance
    • Canada 2015 set a new total attendance record for a FIFA competition other than the FIFA (Men’s) World Cup

Records were also broken for TV broadcast audiences, such as:

  • The Canadian viewing record for any FIFA Women’s World Cup match (quarter-final: average audience was 3.2 million)
  • Fox Sports in the USA had its biggest ever audience for a soccer match (semi-final: average audience was 8.4 million)
  • Fuji TV in Japan attracted more than twice the number of viewers for the semi-final than in 2011 (semi-final average audience was 9.3 million)
  • Broadcasters in Australia, Brazil, China, Korea Republic and Norway all beat the highest TV audience for any match in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup

Waiting 16 years for a soccer World Cup trophy is actually not a long time. (Consider that the reigning men’s world cup champion Germany had to wait 24 years.) In those 16 years, the USA failed to secure the top spot only three times (2003: 3rd, 2007: 3rd, 2011: 2nd). Not shabby at all. Holding the tournament only every four years creates long time-spans during which very strong soccer nations fail to win the top prize. This rarity creates a level of tension that elevates the importance and joyfulness of the event that I believe cannot be matched by annual competitions.

Photo from US Soccer

The scarcity of soccer world cup championships mirrors the lack of scoring in soccer. Only about 3 goals are scored in an average professional soccer match. Most point to the lack of scoring as the main reason why soccer has not gained a greater audience in the United States. While common sense would lead most to agree that fewer goals results in less interesting matches. The opposite is actually true in the world of global soccer! This is quite different from sports that are dominated by and/or largely only played in a single country, think NFL, MLB, NBA – at least at the very top level. Let me try to explain. American major leagues have done an outstanding job of creating parity within each league. The NFL, for example, has a strict salary cap, a revenue-sharing plan to allow less affluent owners and smaller markets to compete, plus weaker teams receive higher draft picks and enjoy softer schedules. None of this exists in sports that would need to be regulated on a world-wide basis. How does one create financial parity across all countries? Broadcast revenue can’t possibly be shared by English Premier League teams with teams in the Spanish La Liga. And since international club competitions are extremely important in soccer, no single country would introduce a salary cap and thereby disadvantage itself in global competitions.

In a sport such as soccer, where disparity is common, parity is created by the fact that soccer matches result in so few goals. This may sound counter-intuitive. But, fewer goals increases the “luck” factor. A few lucky events can change the outcome of any game. Thus, the outcome of soccer matches are less predictable than in other sports with high disparity. Due to the luck factor, soccer is often described as a cruel game since the better team is far from guaranteed to win. In fact, an underdog facing a team that is twice as good has a 26% chance of winning. In high-scoring sports, the chance of beating a team that is twice as good is often less than 1%.* The importance to establish parity in high-scoring sports is thus clear. Better teams win too easily. Solution: Make sure teams do not continue to be better over long time spans.

An added benefit in soccer is that because so few goals are scored, each goal results in a giant release of tension and creates a joy that cannot be matched by sports with an abundance of scoring. Having just said that, the 7-goal bonanza put on by the USA and Japan was a TON of fun! And, luck had little to do with our dramatic win.

*Theory and statistics by Metin Tolan “Manchmal gewinnt der Bessere: Die Physik des Fussballspiels”. Loosely translated: “Sometimes the better team wins: The physics of soccer.”

Comparing Sponsorship Impact for Major U.S. Sports Leagues Part 2

Navigate Research - Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Written by Matt Balvanz

Blog Series:  Comparing Sponsorship Impact for Major U.S. Sports Leagues
Focus:  Driving Awareness 

Over the next several months, we will continue to reveal analytical insights surrounding the effectiveness and impact of sponsorships across the major sports leagues in the US (i.e., NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS). These insights will focus on metrics such as awareness, consideration, likelihood to recommend, and a handful of others. This post will focus on awareness, and the best performing leagues in driving the needle for this metric.

According to research conducted by Navigate, MLS is the best platform for driving sponsorship awareness. So, when asked on an aided (provided a list of possible sponsors) or an unaided (asked to name the sponsor of a specific industry) basis, MLS fans identify sponsors correctly more often than any other league’s fans. In fact, MLS sponsorship awareness outperforms all other leagues by 10-20 percentage points.

However, when it comes to driving awareness among non-fans, the NHL and the NFL are the best performing leagues. It is important to understand the baseline level of awareness when conducting primary market research, so that true sponsorship impact can be evaluated in isolation. So, in the case of the NHL and the NFL, sponsorships have the largest head start, as 32% of non-fans are aware of the average sponsors of these leagues.

Lastly, when isolating the lift in awareness between fans and non-fans, MLS outperforms all other leagues by a wide margin. On average, MLS fans are over 2x as likely to be aware of sponsorships as non-fans. Other leagues drive awareness at a rate of 1.5x – 1.7x.

So, to quickly summarize the best performers of impacting purchase intent among the major US sports leagues:

  • MLS – Best at Driving Awareness among Fans
  • NHL and NFL – Best at Driving Awareness among Non-Fans
  • MLS – Best at Increasing Awareness between Fans and Non-Fans

For more detailed impact metrics across leagues or consultation on how to improve purchase influence for your sponsorships, please contact Navigate Research.


Snapchat's "Live" Story Feature Means Business

Navigate Research - Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Snapchat, a photo sharing application that allows users to send and receive self-destroying photos, is making adjustments to its "Live” story feature. The social mobile app's "Live" feed allows users to look into live events all around the world. These events range from the "Running of the Bulls" in Spain to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign here in the United States. Snapchat users are able to contribute to the story if they are within a certain radius of the promoted Snapchat event or location. These live stories are available to "snapchatters" for a 24 hour period, and then disappear into Snapchat's uncharted and obscure digital "black hole." Recently, when viewing a story, users have been coming across advertisements on these live feeds. The "Tokyo Story," for example, displayed a 10 second trailer sponsoring Universal's new movie Minions. Snapchat charges 2 cents for every advertisement view. And with over 100 million snapchatters out there, there is potential for a “Live” story to generate $2 million worth of ad space.