Basketball Bracket Scores $30K for AJC by Selling 3 Sponsorship Tiers

by Jay Schultz Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Case Study Highlights

  • $30,000 in revenue for newspaper
  • Three sponsorship levels to accommodate advertisers’ budgets
  • Incentivized sponsors with the chance to win ROP (Run of Print) assets based on their picks in the bracket

The Idea

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a member of Cox Enterprises, is a daily newspaper based in Atlanta, Georgia. The Mark Bradley Bracket Fiasco, our college basketball bracket for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is entering its 29th year and is named after our paper’s award-winning sportswriter. Mark initially kicked off the bracket competition in 1987 (before the brackets were digitized) and he tabulated all the user’s handwritten brackets himself!

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For this year’s Bracket Fiasco, we wanted to create a valuable sponsorship package that would allow us to generate more revenue and increase our audience engagement, so we created a promotions plan based off suggestions straight from the Promotions Lab playbook, How to Elevate Your Basketball Promotions.

The Execution

 


Our promotions team decided to integrate three sponsorship levels to maximize our revenue opportunities. We wanted to connect with more local advertisers, including a local grocery store chain and a college, so the three tiers worked well because it allowed for advertisers of all sizes to participate.

We offered a Title Sponsor for a $20,000 investment and limited to 1 sponsor.

Title Sponsor (1 available)
Opportunity to be a VIP Picker
Logo on all bracket updates in print x7 "brought to you by"
1/2 page full color advertisement on double truck on Monday of first week
2 1/2 page advertisements on printed brackets on selected dates
100% SOV (728x90) on the online contest page
100% SOV (300x250) on the online content page
450k ads content targeted to Sports during contest period
Investment: $20,000

The next sponsorship level was our 3-Point Sponsor for a $7,500 investment and limited to 2 sponsors.

3-Point Sponsor (2 available)
Opportunity to be a VIP Picker
Logo on promotional materials and collateral as prize sponsor
3" x 5" full color advertisement on double truck on Monday of first week
1/4 page advertisement adjacent to printed bracket on last Thursday of tournament
50% SOV (300x250) on the online contest page
215k ads content targeted to Sports during contest period
Investment: $7,500

In addition, we offered a Free-Throw Sponsor which was a smaller investment of only $1,200 and was available to 16 advertisers.

Free-Throw Sponsor
Opportunity to be a VIP Picker
3" x 2" full color advertisement on double truck on Monday of first week
5% SOV (300x250) on the online contest page
75k ads targeted to Sports during contest period
Investment: $1,200

Each sponsorship tier was given a number of VIP pickers based on their investment. These VIP pickers competed against other advertisers for an additional sponsorship opportunity – the business with the best bracket would receive additional ROP ads. So the higher the investment, the more VIP picks, and the more chances you had to win.

We loved being able to leverage the ROP assets as an incentive for businesses to be a part of the sponsorship program. Plus, VIP pickers are excellent at driving even more engagement from your users who will keep checking in to compare their picks to others.

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Promotion is key when it comes to running a successful bracket. We ran a heavy digital promotional campaign including ads on our site and posted on all of our social media pages.

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The Sunday before the start of the tournament, Mark Bradley writes an article on his blog outlining his picks for this year’s Bracket Fiasco, and crosslinking to the tournament sign-up page on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s website.

Bracket-Fiasco

On top of that, we print a double-truck in our sports section the day the bracket is launched including a copy of the bracket.

double-truck

The Results

The results were a slam dunk – bringing in $30,000 in revenue for us.

But, we are even more excited for our bracket next year. We plan on increasing the amount of 3-point sponsorship slots to encourage even more participation at a lower investment level. Not only will this bring us more revenue, but the businesses at the lower sponsorship level get a bigger reward by winning the VIP picker contest.

We are also really looking forward to running a 3-in-1 bracket this coming year. One of the biggest drawbacks with the upfront contest is the limited time for promotion. But, with the 3-in-1, we’re looking forward to being able to maximize our promotion throughout the entire contest and leveraging this with our sponsors as well.

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