Jessica Forrest oversees the Rights Holders vertical within Nielsen Sports in North America. Her experience includes sponsorship valuation, custom research and media analytics. Prior to joining Nielsen, Jessica worked for NASCAR, The Marketing Arm and Octagon working across a wide range of sponsors and activations within the sports industry. She holds a Masters in Marketing from Virginia Tech, a Masters in Psychology from Wake Forest University and a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from Virginia Tech.
Q: What do you do at Nielsen Sports?
I oversee the Rights Holders vertical within Nielsen Sports North America. This vertical consists of approximately 60 clients across various sports properties such as PGA of America, Olympic Federations and WWE, agencies like Octagon, and broadcast networks. My team provides clients with sports sponsorship data and solutions including media valuation and consumption metrics, fan profiling, ROI measurement and other custom and syndicated research. I directly manage several accounts including NASCAR, INDYCAR, NCAA, PGA of America, PGA TOUR and USGA.
Q: How are your clients using data to plan for the future?
Some of the biggest organizations in sports are using Nielsen data and insights to improve the on-site fan experience. We have conducted some fascinating studies that directly led to venue design changes, better mobile phone service, enhanced concessions and improved sight lines. Some of these studies have been conducted on-site, allowing the client to make real time changes based on fan feedback.
Our ability to fuse survey data with actual viewership data is helping clients better understand who is watching when, how competition action and big stars impact interest and how different types of fans are contributing to viewership.
Finally, we are providing data and insights to help clients market their product more effectively. Between rights holders and networks, our clients are spending a lot of money on tune-in promotions. We are able to help clients optimize those promotions by providing actual conversion data between those that view tune-in messages and those that ultimately end up watching programs.
Q: How are sponsorships evolving for your clients?
There is a lot of talk about sponsorships becoming more about partnerships. And that is definitely true across our clients. Rights holders understand more than ever that sponsorships are much more than a business transaction but are mutually beneficial relationships. And I think now we are seeing rights holders invest significant dollars in demonstrating value to brands/partners. While brand exposure still plays a major role, sponsorships have evolved into much more than that with increased B2B opportunities, social media activation, storytelling and on-site experiential opportunities (just to name a few). Measuring the holistic value that all of these assets provide a partner is critical and something that our clients excel in.
Q: How are technological advancements impacting your clients?
Technology has had a huge impact on the sports industry. Fans – especially younger fans – have really come to expect the very best technology when viewing sports. In order to compete with the technology advancements of the at-home viewing experience (in-car cameras, umpire cams, real-time data and statistics, etc.), rights holders and venues are under pressure to bring those enhancements on-site. Investments in Wi-Fi infrastructure, apps and video boards have become priorities for rights holders and essentials for fans.
Technology has also helped rights holders to learn more about their fans. On-site data collection, facial recognition technology and passive path tracking have all increased understanding of fan demographics as well as on-site behavior and travel patterns. Increased emphasis on understanding all aspects of the fan experience will continue to lead to enhancements in the game/race/tournament day experience.
Q: What is the best advice you have for clients in planning for their long-term futures?
Always keep your finger on the pulse of the fan – and not just the avid fan but also the casual fan, the lapsed fan, the non-fan, the prospective fan. Understand what drives them and what motivates their behavior. Put the fan first and everything else should fall into place.
Jessica Forrest may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.