Feature Article - September 2014
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Scoreboard Watching

Trends in Scoreboards & Video Displays

By Joe Bush

Get The Message Across

Sponsors and local businesses also are looking to engage with audiences, and scoreboards and video displays can offer many attractive options for getting messages to those in the stands at sporting events. The revenue generated by ad sales can not only help a school or facility pay for the more expensive equipment needed to most effectively show advertising, it can produce a profit once the equipment is paid for.

So what comes first, the idea of selling space and time on media at stadiums and arenas, followed by the purchase of the best equipment for the job? Or the acquisition of the equipment, perhaps because a rival or neighboring school has it, followed by sales of ads to help pay for the additions?

It's a little of both, according to Chris Popowski, regional manager for a wing of a Brookings, S.D.-based manufacturer that helps small colleges and high schools learn how to build partnerships with sponsors and local businesses in order to earn money for and from scoreboards and displays.

"They don't typically have the experience in putting together marketing plans, and they don't have the staff to do the dirty work," Popowski said. "We work with equipment reps to build marketing plans to pay for new scoreboards and new video displays, and the big key for us is we're trying to generate revenue and potential revenue in those communities to not only pay for the scoreboard but hopefully give them a platform to consistently generate revenue for years to come.

"A lot of time it's more than just a panel on a scoreboard. We try to promote more of our digital aspects because that's what gets advertisers excited; it's what gets the fans excited about being a part of these projects."

A lot of people know how to approach businesses to sell a page in a program or a sign on a wall, Popowski said, but with video displays and message crawls, for instance, the promotional options multiply.

"We explain to them what our equipment can do to generate revenue," he said. "Use our equipment to maximize the sponsors and show them the value with being involved with sports programs. Instead of a $500 dollar banner, maybe a $5,000 dollar partnership that would include advertising on the scoreboard, advertising on the digital display, game sponsorship opportunities, tickets.

"You don't know what you'll get from businesses until you ask."

Popowski added that there is no extra charge for such help, unless the company has to send a representative to the community for hands-on sales assistance. More often, the schools and booster clubs have long-standing contacts with businesses and the marketing group's off-site advice and planning is sufficient.

In 2013-14, the marketing group partnered with 55 schools and more than 400 businesses, helping to generate over $11 million in revenue.

"We then work with that school in designing, structuring, packaging and providing them with the sales materials and guidance on securing the sponsorships themselves," Popowski said. "Thus, they keep 100 percent of the revenue generated through those sponsorships."