Head of Sales
What’s your name and position within the organisation?
I’m Chris Hackett, Head of Sales for brands and agencies at Genius Sports. My day-to-day involves working with our brands that have a sponsorship or affiliation with teams or leagues to get the most out of their partnerships.
In brief, what does Genius Sports do and what is your approach to sponsorship and partnerships?
Genius Sports is the world’s leading sports data technology company. Essentially, any type of organisation looking to engage and monetise sports fans can come to us and, through our digital sports agency arm, we provide the right data-driven solutions and strategies for their sports marketing objectives.
We work with hundreds of brands, sponsors, leagues, teams and media organisations around the world – from FIFA, the NFL and English Premier League to Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Heineken, Puma, SkyBet and more.
What approach differentiates Genius Sports and how do you help leagues, teams and brands drive sponsorship value?
We provide unique value in three really clear ways: our sports industry expertise, access to sports data, and technology that activates around it.
We have specialised in sports for 15 years, which gives us smart, reliable campaign strategies. We have also developed our own sports-focused adtech.
This includes a sports DSP, an automated programmatic buying algorithm that’s tied to the sporting calendar, and self-service and managed dynamic creative options that leverage live sports data and unique API data integrations with every social media platform including Meta, Snap and X.
Sports data underpins everything we do. We have official data partnerships with major sports leagues like the English Premier League and NFL. Whether sponsors want to run targeted programmatic and social campaigns, design better-performing ad creative or try something different like gamification, our sports data means every activation is relevant and contextual to sports.
What do you see as current trends within sponsorship, and how are they affecting how you and your partners deliver on strategies?
Sports sponsorship today requires a very different approach to a decade ago. The way fans engage is changing; it’s all about digital, attention spans are shorter and second-screen viewing is off the charts. The phaseout of third-party cookie data is also significantly impacting how brands collect data about their fans and consumers.
We’re seeing more and more sponsors and rights holders – including FIFA, the NFL, Hyundai and PepsiCo – turn to gamification to maximise sponsor value. By gamification, I mean fun, interactive digital sports experiences like fantasy contests, line-up predictors, score predictors, quizzes and polls that can be built into either the brand, league or team’s website or mobile app.
These activations provide an experience that sports fans love while handing sponsors ownable, zero-party audience data and a marketable database of fans. Gamification products can be branded and sponsored in pretty much every way, from naming to in-app inventory, sponsorable points scoring and leaderboards.
How has sponsorship changed for Genius Sports over the past few years, and what predictions can you make about how it’s going to change in the next five years?
Where we have seen the biggest change is in the sheer variety of brands that rights holders are willing to partner with and, crucially, how these partnerships are activated. We’re also seeing huge investment into women’s sport.
In recent years, in line with increased dual screening, we have seen sponsors branch out into social to engage with consumers a lot more, moving away from shirt sponsorship and a big brand equity TV ad during breaks. However, despite advancements into digital channels, we’re still seeing a one-size-fits-all in how to engage with consumers.
For sponsors and rights holders, it’s important to start thinking outside the box. Moving forward, we will see more brands bringing in dynamic live data into their advertising, making it more relevant and personalised, and creating a meaningful, loyal partnership between brand and consumer.
This might also involve investing time into creating and delivering personalised 1:1 behind-the-scenes video content via email or within your app.
What’s next? Within the next five years, we expect sponsors to become more deeply integrated within live sports viewing.
TV broadcasters like FOX Sports and CBS already deliver alternative broadcast feeds – the next evolution is creating sponsorable placements that enable brands to place their logo directly on-screen at key moments, generating 100% viewability and a powerful new way to connect with fans.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We recently published a report for brands targeting sports fans titled ‘New rules, new tactics: A guide to targeting sports fans in the cookieless future’, so you can check that out too.