Five Year Research Project Shows Advantages of "True Sponsorship" Online Over Broadcast Venues

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Sponsorship Effectiveness Index based on 30 studies across 10 major brands. SEI joint project of Studio One Networks, Next Century Media & American Demographics Magazine.

Highlights of a research project based on the guidelines of the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), the Sponsorship Effectiveness Index (SEI), were released today. A consortium of Studio One Networks, Next Century Media and American Demographics Magazine support the continuing study.

The object of the SEI at the outset was to enable advertisers to measure the business values of Online program sponsorships and their impact within various new media environments.

Specifically, the SEI measures the merits of "True" sponsorship Online against those of "Common" sponsorship. "True" sponsorship is defined as information/entertainment brought "as a gift" to the consumer by a sponsor, where the "gift" is not tainted by the intrusion of sales pitches into the editorial content. The only sponsor mention is its logo and the phrase, "Brought to you by." "Common" sponsorship is characterized by a number of "hard sell" display ads.

Since the ARF Model finds that persuasion is the most valuable communications measure of advertising effectiveness, and is predictive of sales results, this aspect of the study was emphasized.

The SEI findings included the following:

  •     Brand perception among targeted consumer groups in "True Sponsorship" situations, improved consumer satisfaction, brand awareness, and intent to purchase, in every case.
  •     The average TV commercial has a "persuasion score" of 4.3% versus a "True Sponsorship" program score of 30.8% Online.
  •     In virtually every category, target groups indicated preference for sponsorship "exclusivity," citing "common" sponsorship advertising as "clutter".
  •     Target audiences became highly involved in the subject matter of the "True Sponsorship" programming, producing high levels of satisfaction with the material. This evoked positive "gratitude" effects towards the sponsor's Brand.
  •     The study repeatedly confirmed the high level of consumer "engagement," or persuasion effect, with a day-after sponsor recall percentage of 27 for "true sponsorship"— five times the number for TV commercials.

“The SEI now gives advertisers a usable yardstick to measure the impact of Internet Program Sponsorship against various invalidated new media environments, such as product placements, buzz, iPods and TiVo. The powerful SEI findings have implications for the ways in which advertisers ought to look for leveraging such media, aiming to employ True Sponsorship, and measuring the results with SEI so there is comparability”, said Bill Harvey, President and CEO of Next Century Media.

Andrew Susman, President and CEO of SON and Chair of the Interactive Advertising Bureau's (IAB) Sponsorship Committee, said "The SEI has given advertisers a step towards a level media playing field. We hope it helps as marketers address the growing problems of clutter, higher broadcast costs with diminishing audience levels, and the new, unmeasured, novelties... buzz and product placement."

Market categories in the SEI study were prepared food products, food products, health products, household products, financial services and automotive. Advertisers participating included Nestle, Purina, DuPont, Procter & Gamble, Tyson, Toyota, American Express and Barr Laboratories.

About Studio One Networks

Studio One Networks, Inc. is the leading company in on-demand program syndication for major corporate sponsors and media partners. Studio One Networks’ diversified stable of programs, and exclusive sponsors range from: Your Baby Today (Nestle Infant Nutrition); to CIO Strategy Center (Symantec), with over 265 media partners ranging from AOL to Wal-Mart.

For further information, contact:

Alan Baker – Tel. 212.213.2332 ext. 209

Jeremy Duca – Tel. 212.213.2332 ext. 206        

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