This week on the XLIVE Interview Series we sat down with Kyle Nelson, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of MVPindex. MVPindex is a software solution which helps organizations measure and quantify their sponsorship initiatives by ranking properties and talent prior to launching, measuring engagement during the campaign, and valuing ROI in real-time. Read the full interview below!
Hey Kyle, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us today! For those who don’t already know, can you give us a little background on MVPindex, and how the company has grown since its founding?
We began the company in 2012 as a way for athletes to measure their social engagement and understand how much value they were driving for brands. Since then, we’ve expanded our offering to help Brands, Properties and Agencies discover who is the right partner to activate with, who is the audience that is engaging and how much value is generated through their social sponsorship campaigns.
After 6 years, MVPindex has become the top solution for top brands and agencies activating within sports and entertainment. Our platform tracks over 90,000 entities including 9,000+ Brands that activate on social media across 80+ sports, 200+ entertainment genres and influencers. In addition, this year we merged with Umbel (now MVPaudience) to help Brands and Properties go one step further and figure out who is the addressable audience that is engaging with the activation.
What are some of biggest problems companies have measuring and quantifying their sponsorship activations, and how does MVPindex help combat these issues?
Traditionally, Properties have relied on surveys to understand and calculate sponsorship value. In the real-time, 24/7 world of social media, traditional measurement solutions can’t get to the answer in a reasonable timeframe, not to mention impressions across social media are completely different than impressions via signage or other traditional sponsorship activations. Therefore, MVPindex created the first and most widely accepted social media measurement and valuation platform for the industry. MVPindex’s comprehensive tracking system is able to detect and compute a value for in-text brand mentions and hashtags featured in the content as well as logos that appear visually in social graphics. In addition, brands are able to capture intelligence on best practices within each sport/entertainment category or by brand category or brand ambassador. Best of all, MVPindex is updated every 24 hours to give valuable insights in a real-time environment, versus more traditional measurement solutions which can take months to calculate values through manual processes.
Beyond the platform, MVPindex provides recap reporting, benchmarking, best practices and rate card analysis, third-party demographics data, and more. In addition, we can help capture first-party audience profiles to help Brands, Properties and Agencies run more targeted and better performing campaigns through our MVPaudience platform.
Did you have a background working with sponsors, events, and activations before you started with MVPindex?
Prior to MVPindex, I started and managed a social media consulting agency working with mid-tier brands and media companies to leverage social media. I co-founded MVPindex with Shawn Spieth, who’s son is top ranked and very well known PGA TOUR player – Jordan Spieth. Both Shawn and I came from the tech world, but after spending time with several sports marketing and talent agencies, we realized a hole was in the market as it related to social media. In particular, Nielsen was seen as the currency for valuing media, but social was missing in the equation.
Although we had no prior experience in the sports or entertainment verticals, with our unique access into the industry and knowledge of tech platforms, we knew there was an opportunity to fill a need for the emerging social media market. That being said, six years ago when we launched MVPindex, social media was a “nice to have” component of sponsorship activations. Now, it is a required part of any activation in sports and entertainment, and in many cases, the key ingredient to a successful campaign. Today, MVPindex measures the entire social media landscape in sports and entertainment to benchmark against competitors and measure the value delivered by each sponsorship.
Who is the typical client for MVPindex? Is there a specific industry you work with most?
We work with brands, properties, agencies, venues, events and influencers who are activating in the sport and entertainment industries.
What are some important components of successful, value-driven social sponsorship campaigns? What should brands and events be aware of, which maybe they aren’t currently?
Above all, Brands, Properties and Events need to be intentional on how they approach social sponsorship campaigns. There is a huge difference between intentional and incidental posts. Brands should not rely on posts that may have picked up a brand’s logo in the background of a graphic that is shared on social media. These “incidental posts” have very little to no strategic value for the brand. Live events must get intentional with how they featured brands in posts and launch strategic, engaging campaigns that evoke a meaningful response from their desired audience.
How have you seen the sponsorship landscape change over the past few years? How has new technology and social media changed your job and changed the way MVPindex does business?
There has been a seismic shift across the sport and entertainment industries to focus on the quality of posts in sponsorship activations. No longer are Brands telling Properties or Events to include a certain number of posts in their social sponsorship activations. Instead, the focus is now all on meaningful engagement and the value that they can generate from that engaged audience. This past summer we saw Anheuser-Busch InBev introduce an incentive-based sponsorship model, which will soon become the norm in the coming years. These deals will include a base compensation package for the team or league paired with different tiers of rewards that are triggered by activation performance metrics. Incentive-based sponsorship models encourage creativity and require verified measurement to ensure activations drive engagement and meaningful results for all involved.
How, if at all, do live events know they are reaching the right audience through their sponsorships? How can MVPindex help?
That’s half the battle right there. It’s not enough to have content that is widely shared; you need to ensure your activations are reaching the right audience with the right message at the right time. In order to accomplish this, Properties and Events need to know their audience holistically — who they are, what cars they drive, what music they listen to, where they spend their time and what they love. Live events likely have a idea of who comprises their audience, but that’s not enough. They need to validate the data and take a dive deep to discover who they are. They can discover these insights by engaging with their fans through a digital activation, collecting first-party audience data and making sense of those insights through the MVPaudience platform.
How can live events leverage data solutions to drive more revenue?
Live events can leverage audience data to secure new sponsorships and retain existing ones. This data can enhance current relationships with major brands and help articulate how well a sponsorship campaign is performing and who it is effectively reaching. In addition, digital activations open up an entirely new arsenal of digital sponsorship inventory. For example, live events can gate their WiFi to collect data and sell naming rights for that activation and feature a brand’s logo on the WiFi opt-in activation.
What’s the most challenging part of your job, and what bring you the most joy?
Frankly, the most challenging aspect of the job is helping to educate the market of the difference in social media sponsorship activations versus traditional. The joy is getting sponsorship teams to understand how to best leverage social media and measure its impact versus traditional sponsorship activations like signage. Social is 24/7 and doesn’t need to be about the concert or game. Fans feel they have a personal connection across social media with their favorite musician, athlete, team, etc. Brands that are winning across social understand how to leverage this connection and stop trying to drive the fan to watch an event on TV. They realize they can activate outside of the event to create unique experiences and connections.
What’s next for MVPindex? Are there any new features in the pipeline, or any new markets you’re planning to expand to?
We’re always adding platform features and will continue with aggressive enhancements to both MVPindex and MVPaudience heading into 2019. In addition, we’re excited to continue to forge new partnerships with other social media networks, tech companies and agencies. Just this week we announced our partnership with Wayin — the leader in interactive digital experiences. This partnership will provide MVPaudience clients with the opportunity to customize 75 pre-formatted templates for data acquisition campaigns including quizzes, polls and photo contests to create comprehensive audience profiles.
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