Branded Content in Sports as a New Revenue Stream

For companies that are looking to generate more revenue out of the shrinking advertising industry, sponsored content is definitely a positive reach. As traditional forms of advertising begin to lose their ability to engage customers, sponsored content is rising in value. When combined with the always engaging drama of sports, companies have the ability to not only maintain online revenue streams, but actually build them for the future.

Here is what you need to know about sponsored content in sports as a new revenue stream.


New revelations at Facebook have taken down the last pillar that traditional advertisers online have to stand on. The large social media platforms cannot protect the privacy of advertisers, which completely takes away the advantage of advertising there. As Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress, he ushers out yesterday’s era of advertising and leaves the door wide open for a new era of sponsored content.

Engagement is going down for just about every form of traditional advertising available on the market today. Ads running in front of videos on YouTube and Facebook are no longer effective because of ad blockers that are installed on over 600 million devices. In many cases, these ads do not even play in the mobile space, where commerce is definitely moving. Email advertising, once a veritable lock in at a 2 or 3% response rate, is losing its ability to engage as well. Spam filters and general disdain for direct advertising has taught the modern consumer to move away from any email outside of a very small whitelist. Not only will you waste money by trying to use email advertising, but you may also get yourself completely blacklisted within your target market if you overdo any part of the process.

Print is dying as well. Have you checked your local newspaper or even the size of your favorite nationally published magazine? If you compare the size of these publications now to the size of those publications 10 years ago, you will see a definite difference in thickness. Advertisers are running from these places for one reason – people do not read anymore. Inexplicably, the prices on print remain extraordinarily high, as if these publishers believe that the audience is somehow going to come back. Millennials, the audience that is driving all major commerce today, is running away from print and is not coming back.


Sponsored content is taking the place of all these traditional advertising methodologies. Sponsored content moves away from direct sales, and it also incorporates itself nicely into the mode of indirect marketing that works with Millennials today. If you are looking at sponsored content as some sort of infomercial or long-term advertisement, you are confusing this relatively new and unexplored territory with many of the techniques that worked in the past. However, they are different in many different ways.

First of all, sponsored content aims to give the viewing audience much more value than it takes. There is no other type of advertising that does this. Every other method is trying to latch advertising onto content instead of becoming the content itself. This is the only way that you will get the audience’s attention in the modern business landscape. The modern consumer is trained to ignore any and everything else.

Sponsored content is also considered native advertising. Part of the reason that many of the other forms of advertising do not work anymore is because they are non-native. Non-native means that they look like advertisements – they are not fully integrated into the platform upon which they are placed. There is no reason for this difference in perspective other than advertisers do not want to embrace the new reality of the online consumer. People simply have too much choice. They do not have to pay attention to anything that looks like an ad, so why would they? You have to create value with a consumer before you can even ask for sale. As a matter of fact, you should make the consumer believe that the sale was his or her idea. This is what sponsored content does better than anything else on the market.


Sports is especially open to a new sponsorship technique like sponsored content. When people watch sporting events, they are watching it for the content alone. Every advertisement is nothing more than a distraction from the actual action that is taking place. Nowhere is the difference between advertising and content more apparent than in sports. This is exactly why sponsored content works so well.

There is an entire industry of content based around sports that does not have anything to do with the game directly. Many talking heads in the industry discuss the personal lives of  the star players, their financial arrangements with teams, and many other aspects of the industry. This is where sponsorship can play a huge role in providing advertisers with a new revenue stream.

The most important aspects of sponsored content in sports is that the content seemed native and relevant. Sports fans are highly sensitive to people who do not know what they are talking about. If you are going to attempt this, then you need to have an expert presence in the industry. Anything less will cause people to look at your content as advertising. However, the opportunity is larger than ever in this industry.


Sponsored content also works well within sports because it can take many forms. For instance, when it comes to fans, surveys work incredibly well. This is the essence of sponsored content – you can place an advertisement for a company inside of a survey without the customer ever knowing that he or she is participating in it. This makes the content fully native, and it ensures that your potential customer is viewing you as an expert voice in the industry.

Sponsoring this kind of content means that you are paying attention to three major factors – reach, resonance and relevance. Relevance should be the easy part when it comes to sports. This is a highly engaged audience that knows what it wants.

Resonance should be another easy win for the home team. If you truly have an expert voice on your team, then you should be able to deliver content that is considered high quality to a captive audience. Reach is the real issue here. You must place your content in a place where it will be viewed by a substantial number of people within your target audience.

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