Influencer marketing is quickly becoming a staple marketing channel for amateur and professional sports teams—with no signs of slowing down. In fact, new research from Cascade Influencers finds that more than 65 percent of sports marketers agree that influencer marketing programs are a necessity for a brand’s success in today’s digital world.
In the U.S. and Canada, 45 percent of sports marketers increased their budgets for influencer programs from 2017 to 2018. Further, nearly 25 percent of sports marketers spent more than $20,000 on influencer programs in 2018.
In addition to the financial investment, these programs also require a significant time investment in order to be effective and strategic in approach. From identifying the best partnerships to negotiating sponsored fees, approximately 35 percent of sports marketers who are running influencer programs spend more than 20 hours a month managing the process and nearly 10 percent of those marketers are spending more than 80 hours a month on management.
“When compared to organizations similar in size in other industries, sports entertainment companies are much slower to adopt influencer marketing,” said Matt Diteljan, co-founder at Cascade Influencers, in a news release. “While other industries have been pouring money into influencer marketing for years, sports entertainment companies are just now starting to jump on the bandwagon.”
What’s driving interest?
The financial influence of Generation Z is estimated to be between $29 and $143 billion of direct spending by 2020—and sports marketers are taking notice. As the most socially conscious demographic, they turn to social media and network comparisons much like their millennial counterparts. Sports marketers are seeking new ways, like influencer marketing, to connect with Generation Z for this very reason. In fact, more than half of survey respondents listed Generation Z as the most important segment of their brand.
“This new generation of consumers is hard-working, pragmatic and values transparency,” said Diteljan. “Generation Z is looking for people like them whom they can trust, and influencer marketing is where that starts. They don’t want brands to produce ad copy; they want brands to create relevant and valuable content.”
As influencer marketing continues to grow rapidly in the industry, sports marketers will need to learn to play by the rules set by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Less than half of survey respondents were aware that FTC regulations govern partnerships between brands and influencers. Without proper #ad and #sponsored disclosure on an influencer’s sponsored social media post, brands are at risk of FTC violations and penalties.
According to the report, sports marketers will continue to grow and expand influencer marketing programs in 2019.
The results presented in this report are based on a total of 65 surveys completed among a random sample of U.S. (n=42) and Canadian (n=23) sports marketers. All surveys were completed online via an outbound solicitation sent to a cross-section of sports marketers in the U.S. and Canada.