NEW YORK: Sponsorship strategies in America are rapidly evolving in areas from activation to localisation and measurement, according to a new paper from Warc.

What we know about sponsorship strategies argues that social media is very much challenging the dominance of PR when it comes to activating partnerships with properties in the worlds of sport, entertainment, and so on.

"Social media is growing as a sponsorship lever: not only does it help to engage millennials but it also offers the practical advantages of lower activation costs and what IEG refers to as the 'rights-to-activation' ratio," the paper says.

"The average ratio of dollars spent on activation (compared to the amount spent on rights fees) recently dropped for the first time since 2009 – meaning the most popular ratio is now an even 1:1."

Telecoms giant AT&T offers one example of this model in action: its content marketing initiative for March Madness in 2013 featured six-year-old children predicting scores in the NCAA's annual basketball tournament.

Capital One, the financial services provider, employed real-time marketing – particularly on Twitter – during the same event to connect with fans and celebrities alike.

Given the huge number of sponsors typically involved with major events, especially in the sporting arena, some marketers are also pursuing more localised affiliations.

MillerCoors, the brewer, is a case in point, having supplemented its national programmes with several efforts reflecting the local nature of America's beer market.

Across the country, there are regional and city-level preferences for various brands within the firm's expansive portfolio, with an emphasis on supporting local sports teams.

Measurement is seeing a shift among brands, too, with data from the Association of National Advertisers showing a rise in the amount of companies using replicable processes to determine sponsorship ROI.

NASCAR has helped set new standards in this area by establishing a 500-square-foot dedicated Fan and Media Engagement Center in its headquarters to conduct more rapid analytics for teams, sponsors and broadcasters.

Data sourced from Warc