March 22, 2017
As any sailor knows, yachts and yachting is not cheap.
For sponsors of the international Extreme Sailing Series, which kicked off in Oman this month, the cost is likely to be in the millions – each boat alone is €285,000 to buy.
The one thing all the brands that invest in the event demand as payback is exposure through the media – a prism that is rapidly evolving, says Andy Tourell, the Extreme Sailing Series event director.
"The media landscape has changed almost out of recognition. While the social media has not yet caught up with the media value of traditional broadcasting, you have to build it into your media strategy, without dropping the traditional media aspect.
"But TV is still really, really important." The series commercial director, Scott Over, says being able to measure the effectiveness of media coverage is a major part of attracting and keeping sponsors. "One of our kpis [key performance indicators] is being consistent in the reporting of our media value; gone are the days when you can just attach a million figure to media value. More relevant is who you’re targeting, the demographic you’re hitting. Are you targeting people who the sponsors want to talk to, is the message clear, is it getting to the markets that the sponsors want it to?"
Still, according to the founder and operator of the series, OC Sport, the media value of the competition has grown year on year since the first series in 2007, from €1.8 million (Dh7.1m) to €49.5 million in 2015. Media value is basically what it would cost to place advertising with the same amount of coverage, across TV, print and social media.
Measuring TV media effectiveness is, in part, fairly straightforward. "Our broadcaster is IMG, who literally counts [audience] numbers," Mr Over says. IMG is a global sports and entertainment events management company headquartered in New York City.
This year, the Extreme Sailing Series finishes in Los Cabos, Mexico, and the requirements that venue had were different from those of others such as the penultimate destination, San Diego. "Mexico, even more than San Diego, requires a large [amount of coverage] in the States, so we have taken a change in our broadcast to have a digital-first approach, that will be underlying TV broadcast as a standard," Mr Over says.
Part of the digital push will be through the promotion of the free Extreme Sailing Series app and live streaming on social media platforms such as Facebook. "We’ll also have the TV broadcast going out live, there’s highlight reels and connections with major news stations. Los Cabos wants exposure in its key market, which is the States. They see us a great way to expose their brand to their key market.
"For the States we’re going to ramp up our commercial activity. For instance a change to the distribution of TV. The TV broadcasters take the rights, we try to put our coverage out through the broadcasters that we [and sponsors] want . For the majority of our sponsors we have major kpis, which we need to fulfil, of which broadcast would be one.
"We have a kpi for [the sixth venue] Cardiff, for instance, for economic impact and we need to have an economic impact study for the investment they make in us so they trust us to bring the numbers to Cardiff Bay. Whether that’s through marketing, promotion, we need to know that we have a platform that will deliver those kpis.
"We also need to have a media strategy – is it as easy as just putting an advert in a broadsheet? What message do we put through our broadcast coverage, through our online coverage? We need to be very clear about that; we want to provide quality, exciting content and we have quality, exciting partners that can help us promote our sport," Mr Over says.
And, as Mr Tourell points out, the digital aspect also works as a tool for education, explaining what the courses are, the boats and what they can do as well as the physical nature of the racing the sailors have to master. "It is extremely physically demanding. Those elements of the social media offering are important regarding the public awareness of the sport and the series and of course its ongoing ambitions to grow commercial viability.
"But it all has to be presented in the appropriate way for the modern consumer. What we are doing more this year is putting more social media content out. But that area is changing, too – people don’t go so much to their laptop anymore, everything has to come to their phone."