Alexa, what's the Six Nations worth?

Updated: Mar 17, 2019

Is AI the answer to sponsorship's big questions?



I heard the word ‘machine’ used as a verb the other day.


The scene was yet another panel discussion about the value of sport at yet another marketing conference. This is not an exact reproduction of the conversation, but it captures the gist:

“They can’t sell the Six Nations title. What’s it worth, do you think?”

“Dunno, but I’m sure we could machine it.”


I love ‘machine it’.


It’s such a revealing phrase, one that says much more about the speaker than it does the subject matter.

Think of all that intellectual energy devoted to doggedly pursuing a single measurement framework for sports sponsorship, only for the robots to get there first, with a contraption that sounds like the bastard love child of Lesa Ukman and IBM Watson.

Since sport started pulling in the serious brand cash, sponsors and rights holders have danced around the age-old question of value. Finding the definitive answer has been the holy grail since Mark McCormack and Arnold Palmer shook hands.


As in every business sphere, some of this work has been automated: sponsors and rights holders are using machines of varying quality and complexity, from simple Excel dashboards to data-devouring supercomputers.


But the real power of ‘machine it’ lies in the promise of something more. It is about our fundamental quest for simple answers to complex questions.


‘Machine it’ allows us to glide across questions of cause and effect by devolving the donkey work of marketing attribution to an elegant equation, providing a beguilingly simple number that even a chief exec can understand.


Think of all that intellectual energy devoted to doggedly pursuing a single measurement framework for sports sponsorship, only for the robots to get there first, with a contraption that sounds like the bastard love child of Lesa Ukman and IBM Watson.



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