Sarah Melville

Media Director at YouGov Sport

Founded in July 2010, YouGov Sport — an integrated division of YouGov —  is a global sports, sponsorship and entertainment research company, and part of one of the world’s largest and most respected internet-based market research and data analytics firms. 

At YouGov Sport we work with many different companies to help them understand the value of their branding at particular sport events. So, our bread and butter really is about working with those companies to understand the potential in their advertising spending. 

When people think of YouGov, they tend to think very much about consumer feedback. Yes, we do use consumer opinion to understand the impact of branding. Our Sport Media department specialize mostly in understanding the number of people watching a particular sporting event, and how our customer’s branding and message is appearing on the screen  – as well as the effect it has on their brand exposure.

We use this information to place a value on the impact each time a brand appears during a sports event. From there, our clients are much better positioned to understand whether these branding opportunities are viable, or if their company’s advertising revenue or branding would be best placed in other areas, or across other sporting events.

Our customers are mainly rights holders, and also brands. Rights holders include companies like athletic leagues or championships. In terms of brands, we work with a range of companies. Two of the larger brands we service include a market leading auto e-commerce company and a large international airline, and they sponsor loads of different sporting events throughout the year. 

When it comes to our customers making deals, whether the rights holder working with a brand or vice versa, it’s really hard for them to know whether the deal they have in place is effective or not, and what the advertising value should truly be.

Therefore, our customers come to us and ask us to explore all elements of their branding campaigns. We will look at how many people are actually watching the sport event, we will consider how many times their brand is appearing on the screen, what it looks like, whether there are other brands present, how much noise is there on the screen when the brand appears, how much chatter is there around the event, is the brand presented throughout that, etc. 

By considering those variables, we are able to add tangible elements to the questions: What is the value of this branding strategy? It’s quite a difficult thing to come up with an answer for. 

A relevant example that I can share is around Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament in the world and one of the four major grand slam championship tennis tournaments.

We typically work with several different brands to let them know how their branding got on at that particular event. One brand in particular, said, “Look, we’ve got some branding at the back of the court – we are interested to know how effective that was.”

To perform our analysis, we look at all the footage, and we see how often that brand appears during the actual match play. Then we also consider the size of it, whether there are other brands present, etc. From there, using that data and combining it with the audiences of different broadcasters casting the game all across the world, we are able to come up with a strong value figure for the strategy itself.

The brand that we were working with at last year’s Wimbledon actually came to us and said: “Well, you’ve told us that our branding has plummeted year on year. Why is that?” 

So, what we did is we went back to the footage, had a look through and we found out that it was a ball boy that kept standing in the way of their branding. As a result of that, the next day of the competition, that brand was able to encourage the boy to move slightly out of the way.

There are a lot of competitors out there that do elements of what we do. But we cover the broadcast analysis, we cover the secondary media side of things and we do it incredibly quickly. On top of that, we have the option for the client to then explore what customers are actually thinking and perceiving about their brand from the consumer side or the survey side of the business.

The website of things is basically our bread and butter when it comes to secondary media. If you imagine that a sports event is not just shown on your TV, it’s broadcast all over the world. It might be through social media platforms, it might be through website articles, etc. 

We also include things like TV news into our analysis, which for us is web data that we can gather from news clips posted on the internet, and then break it down into frames of images. All the images that we gather come through web searches – using our image recognition system – which recognizes and looks for specific types of branding. 

Without the ability to collect public web data from the internet, we are unable to know when a brand was present across these mediums and also its reach. 

We have an incredible group of developers within our team, but the sheer speed at which we’ve grown as a business, the media analysis side of sports – and I guess, because we do offer this whole package – the emphasis really being put on secondary media these days. Therefore, we needed some support. 

Our developers are able to do some elements of public web data collection, but we needed advice, we needed help. And we needed to do it much, much quicker and with much, much higher volume. Hence, we came to Bright Data for support in that area. 

The account management side of things is really proactive. If we have a question, our account manager is very quick to respond. If there is any problem in the flow of data between Bright Data and our bespoke dashboard that we have, we know about that through alert systems. 

The problems arise mainly due to the social media platforms themselves changing their formats, but Bright Data is always on it straightaway. The fact that we can also login into Bright Data’s platforms and track the status of a particular data feed that we have, that makes a big difference.

There’s no way that we could keep growing at the speed in which we are without Bright Data’s support.

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