There's a hot term being thrown around by sports marketers around the world - white space.  Long ago, the term was used to describe blank or unprinted space in the advertising industry. In the context of sports marketing, white space has to do with unused areas in a sports arena, on an athlete’s jersey or on a team’s social media accounts that could be used to place sponsor branding to catch the attention of sports fans as they consume sports.   

Why is white space the new buzzword in sports marketing? While the concept of “white space” in sports is not new, with the uncertainty in sports today and the pause of sports in early March, rights holders and brand sponsors are getting creative by experimenting with new ways to reach fans. 

Forward-thinking marketers are challenging traditional in-venue signage concepts by asking "Why not?" and "What if?"  Much of this creative thinking is being driven by the return of sports in environments where there will be no fans in the immediate future.  With no fans or limited fans in seats, a sports marketer’s canvas becomes full of possibilities - teams and leagues can now use this new “empty” space to provide brand exposure opportunities for their brand partners. 

While many rights holders are currently using white space analysis to uncover signage opportunities for existing partners in the form of make-goods, white space analysis findings can also help rights holders assign a media value to those assets, allowing them to evaluate the cost-benefit of creating a new asset and then sell those assets to new partners at a fair price.  

White space analysis is used in the sponsorship world to:

  • Identify new assets that can be leveraged to drive incremental value to brand partners.
  • Analyze how changing the size or location of signage assets can impact sponsor media value.
  • Back rate cards and inventory pricing with credible data.

So how does a marketer or their rightsholder partner identify this elusive white space and how do they determine what the potential value is of a new signage asset?  As with many questions in the marketing world, the answer, in this case is - technology.  

To execute a white space analysis, a type of artificial intelligence called computer vision is used. For over a decade, GumGum Sports has been a leader in helping marketers reap the benefits of computer vision through the contextual analysis of images. Today, this technology aids marketers and rights holders in the identification and valuation of white space opportunities, by increasing the accuracy, speed, and scale at which the analysis can be done. With the help of computer vision, rights holders are able to unlock new opportunities for sponsorship revenue and brands are empowered to track and optimize their sponsorship portfolios for maximum effectiveness.

Computer vision enables us to uncover new signage opportunities in stadiums by capturing and analyzing unused space in stadiums that appear on television broadcasts, streaming platforms and social media channels, even on social media accounts that are operated by fans, athletes and media companies. A proprietary methodology then assigns a media value to that empty space based on the visibility that empty space had across all channels, allowing the rights holder and potential sponsor to understand what value that asset might generate for them. 

For the rights holders, this technology creates completely new sponsorship inventory which can be confidently sold based on accurate valuations. For brands looking to get creative, these technologies create unique spaces that they can present to partners as a new partnership idea. You can learn how GumGum Sports calculate sponsor media value in The Brand Guide to Optimizing Sponsorships

Regardless of your perspective, the new normal in sports marketing involves challenging conventional thinking.  As the landscape shifts, marketers will need to embrace technology to maximize opportunities for their businesses.

Looking to explore white space analysis further? Request a meeting with one of our in-house experts!

Written by Chris Mike