NASCAR sponsors received almost $1.7 billion in exposure for their brands this year, according to the results of custom research for the recently concluded season.

For the second straight year, SportsBusiness Journal/Daily teamed with Kansas City-based sponsorship measurement firm Image Impact to measure the exposure received by companies doing business with NASCAR.

This year, we captured and assessed more than 138,000 sponsor impressions, 44 per cent more than last year's study, through NASCAR's 37-race Sprint Cup Series schedule, which includes the Sprint All-Star Challenge.

Nearly 600 sponsors were tracked. Primary and secondary car and driver partners were analysed, along with all race venue signage, and the myriad graphics and audio mentions from the races' TV broadcasts.

Six additional sponsored locations were measured this year, including exposure a sponsor may have received by having its logo on a trophy. Tertiary sponsors on driver and pit crew uniforms and on the quarter panels of the race-cars were not reported.

Image Impact's proprietary software provided analysis of the video feeds from each race. Each race broadcast was broken down and evaluated for all brand detections that occurred on screen and were clear and in-focus for at least one full second. Each of those individual detections was then evaluated based on its duration, average size, location and relative isolation (or lack thereof) from competing brands: Was the logo a featured image on the screen or was it shown among other sponsors?

Nearly one-third of all monetary value calculated came via exposure on the on-screen leaderboard.

Because location and clarity significantly affected the measured value of each detection, quantity did not always translate into increased value. Also, for the purpose of summary calculations, each audio mention was assigned a duration of five seconds.

For example, Allstate's 702 detections generated $32.9 million in exposure over the course of the season, putting Allstate #9 overall among the nearly 600 companies tracked. The Home Depot, #10 overall, had almost three times as many detections, but because many of those detections were less prominently displayed, the company received $29.6 million in value.

A monetary value for each sponsor detection was calculated based on a formula combining all these factors and the network-provided rate-card price of a 30-second spot for each specific race. Ad rates increased by an average of $10,000 this season over 2007.

Although most of the impressions did not come about as a result of a direct media buy, using rate-card prices creates a level playing field. For example, three companies have naming-rights deals at a track: Lowe's, Infineon and Auto Club of California. These companies received credit for brand exposure even if they did not necessarily sponsor a driver or telecast.

Among the findings:

o In twelve of the 37 races tracked, the driver who delivered the most value for his sponsors was not the winner of the race.

o One of every five dollars in exposure went to Sprint.

o AT&T, in its final year as a NASCAR sponsor, ranked #5 overall and more than doubled its exposure value.

o Kyle Busch's eight-win season helped M&M's, his primary sponsor, rise from #61 last year to #17 this season. The candy brand's exposure value increased fivefold, to $22.3 million.
by David Broughton/Sporting News

David Broughton is research director for SportsBusiness Journal

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