Advertising and sponsorships are both great ways to direct a huge number of gazes at your brand to get recognition. However, there are some key differences in how either of them works and the goal that you can achieve through them. Sports sponsorships often indicate a long-term commitment in exchange for broad repeated exposure for the sponsoring brand. Online advertising, on the other hand, promises specific returns for a set period and budget. Advertising often delivers a specific message to the audience. The following are some useful tips when choosing between sponsorships and online advertising.

1. Know Your Brand Values

The first thing to consider is what your brand stands for and how you align yourself with sports or sporting events. These days, audiences will easily call your brand out if they know that a brand is piggybacking on the popularity of a sporting event just to profit itself. The audience these days, especially millennials, are mindful of brand-value alignment, meaning they are conscious about the values of the brands they consume. So, if you are a popular brand and you want to market yourself to the target audience of sports or events but don’t see a strategic value alignment, you might want to go down the online advertising route.

2. Understand Your Company Goals

As mentioned before, sponsorships involve a long-term agreement between a company and a sporting entity; be it an athlete, a team, or a league. It allows the consumers to view the company as a partner of the sports organization by investing in more than just traditional advertising space like logos on t-shirts. For example, it isn’t uncommon to see companies giving back to the community by investing in low-end sports or sponsoring athletes on their journey to success. As consumers start recognizing a brand’s logo and its connection to sport, the audience starts to subconsciously develop an association with the brand. If you are a company that can develop and benefit from such a partnership, sponsorships might be the way to go.

3. Know Your Target Audience

It is almost intuitive to know that a company’s target audience determines its marketing mix, i.e. what channels will it focus on to promote its message. You want to use channels your audience pays attention to, otherwise, your message will not get across. It is very important for companies to understand their audience alignment when it comes to making a choice between sponsorship and online ads. Your company’s brand voice should be in sync with the brand voice of the sport that the fan is used to. Otherwise, it will create a negative impact on the brand in the minds of the audience. This ties back into the above discussion about your brand’s values.

4. Determine Your Marketing Budget

Your choice between online advertising and a sports sponsorship will also be heavily influenced by the size of your marketing budget. Sport sponsorships can help you boost awareness, sales, and profitability. However, investing in sponsorships is expensive, especially if you’re putting in the money for long-term commitments and if there are a lot of competitors in the space vying for the same spot. It is therefore important to be mindful of your marketing budget so you can maximize your gains from your marketing channel. If you have the money, sponsorships can help you reap benefits for long periods and cement your brand image in audiences’ minds. If you have a restricted budget, however, online ads might be the way to go. This way you can track your spending for return-on-investment.

5. Know Your Campaign Goals

Brands with consistent brand messaging and campaigns consistently roll out promotional messages on their channels leading to a consistent brand voice for their audience. Sponsorships can often be an effective channel for such brands as they can lead to strategic long-term gains in brand awareness for the company. Companies can leverage online ads to roll out new campaigns or products that need the audience to get familiarized with them or as they step into new markets.

6. Know Your Channel Restrictions

Digital channels, while offering a wide variety of benefits, have some restrictions on the advertising creatives you can use. One of the major restrictions comes in the form of you not being able to use your logo freely in creatives. Sponsorships work in exactly the opposite way, where your brand assets get major visibility in a lot of different places, maximizing chances of brand awareness.

Sports sponsorships vs. online ads

Sponsorships and online ads each have their place and their benefits; while one can help reap long-term benefits, the other can offer advantages for strategic intervals. Choosing between sponsorships and online ads (or both) ultimately depends on the goals set by the company and brand. Keep this guide in mind before making a decision about your channel of choice.