Using Digital Signals To Measure Audience Brand Engagement At Major Sports Events: The 2015 MLB Season

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Abstract: This research tests the hypothesis that digital data signals gathered from MLB stadium visitors can provide significant insight on the value of brand sponsorships and also inform on optimization of brand placement. The digital data signals analyzed in this study include mobile device location data collected from all MLB stadiums during the 2015 year and the online browsing behavior associated with these devices. The audience research is unique as it marries offline behavior with online behavior by using online behavioral data to inform on visitors to a physical location. Results from our study show that brand sponsorships do have an impact on fan engagement, and in some cases increase in value as the season progresses. As an example, Colorado Rockies fans at Coors’ Field are 13.6 times more likely to visit the airline sponsor’s website than the general population and 4.1 times more likely than all other MLB team fans. If we look at monthly trends, the propensity for fans to visit the airline sponsor site versus all other MLB fans increased from 4.1 to 6.8. This research has far reaching implications for matching teams with prospective sponsors while at the same time providing a comprehensive perspective on how the audience at each ballpark is interacting with current brands. Furthermore, the methods described allow one to quantify the impact of corporate sponsorship in a way that has never been explored before. Lastly, the techniques described here are not limited to MLB parks or to web site visit behavior.

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