What’s your name and position within the organisation?
I’m Simon Eaton, MD at Fifty, and I lead our sports business.
In brief, what does Fifty do and what is your approach to sponsorship and partnerships?
We work with brands and rights owners in sports and entertainment. Fifty’s tech capabilities enable us to understand and segment fans in a unique way, specifically focusing on growth and international audiences. These are often not understood as well as a core fan base that lives locally and/or physically attends events.
We are also a global multichannel advertising business, working to activate sponsorships more effectively through the digital landscape. We directly translate our insights into audience understanding and segmentation, then activate against those segments with market-leading results.
What approach differentiates Fifty and makes your sponsorship strategy unique?
We bring unique data to the sponsorship decision-making and activation processes. Often the data that underpins the non-core audience understanding is limited and lacks robustness, from sources that are not scaled; surveys or focus groups.
We analyse actual human beings who love a sport or a team – via social media and web behaviour data, in any market – and present that data in a clear and compelling way to inform better decision making.
We use this to support clients, whether they are rights owners wishing to sell better, or brands wanting to make smarter partnership decisions. We also provide in-house activation capabilities for rights owners through digital advertising – our OmniAudience AI technology is uniquely placed to empower brands with dynamic real-time media planning strategies, linked to Fifty audiences, to pinpoint the most effective channels for their customers. On top of this, our sustainability integration allows clients to measure different media domains’ gCO2PM impacts in a real-time basis. This measurement allows us to optimise media plans towards greener solutions.
We also act as a provider direct-to-brand to generate a far superior ROI than is typically possible.
Further, FiftyAurora is our ID-free, privacy-first solution that provides effective audience targeting, future-proofed for a cookieless based world. This technology allows brands and sponsors to target audiences beyond the limited scale of consented data, and with more intelligence than page context alone. Where other platforms are building Universal ID platforms to track audiences, FiftyAurora scales across all digital channels, uniting insight and planning directly with activation.
What do you see as current trends in sponsorship and how are they affecting how you work and deliver on your strategy?
It’s a challenging environment at the moment. In recent years, one could say there has been some papering over the cracks in terms of the lack of innovation within the sponsorship ecosystem, which firstly was dominated by betting brands, and secondly by crypto and associated Web3 brands.
The sponsorship system appeared to be growing as industries were expanding in these high-growth areas and, consequently, the money was flowing without rights owners having to do anything particularly innovative.
Another trend we have seen is massive investment from businesses like Cazoo or Cinch, who were buying up properties all over. Arguably this created a certain level of lethargy, as well as no particular need to innovate with better fan insight and activation capabilities from a rights owner’s perspective.
Clearly there are lots of people doing an amazing job, but there are plenty of organisations with problems on the horizon. Within markets such as betting, with the restrictions that are gradually coming in, and crypto, which is still deflated, and with brands like Cinch and Cazoo investing less, innovation is a necessity and we are a solution to those problems.
Ultimately, brands are progressing fast, but deals are still occasionally done by the mystical ‘chairman’s whim’, and not necessarily for the right tangible reasons.
Businesses need to ensure that the key groups the brand is trying to engage and sell to are being effectively targeted through investment. To see this through and to prove audiences are being properly engaged is a challenge we are uniquely placed to tackle at Fifty.
How has sponsorship changed for Fifty over the past few years, and what predictions can you make about how it’s going to change in the next five years?
For Fifty it has been a case of growing, rather than changing, in recent years. First and foremost, our business is working directly with brands and rights owners to help them understand and segment their audiences to drive growth, informing overall marketing strategy, expanding internationally or launching brand new products.
That’s how we grew as a business, by delivering tangible outputs from our insights in the form of meaningful digital advertising.
Sponsorship is a natural fit with one of our major data sources being social media, where most engagement and conversation revolves around entertainment and sports. This type of social data meshes naturally with sports and entertainment because it comes from the very platforms where the discussion is happening, and where key audiences are living.
There is also a natural gap where we are solving a very live challenge facing brands and right owners.
Hopefully in coming years the sponsorship ecosystem will embrace solutions like ours to modernise and continue to build the technology in fanbase understanding and marketing technology more generally that has not been effectively utilised by the sponsorship industry previously.
This is what we are trying to solve by continuing to develop the market’s best solutions for brands, and to bring that solution into the sponsorship system for everybody’s benefit.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
In terms of work we are doing in the sports and entertainment space, we recently released a study looking at women’s football audiences and the key opportunities they present from a data perspective.
Additionally, we are working on an interactive report on fan bases associated with European sports, particularly football, in the US, which we are happy to share and will be making publicly available, as well as a multitude of other projects. Please get in contact via firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more.