Sponsorship Accountability Metrics (SAM) Project

The Sponsorship Accountability Metrics (SAM) Project is a joint endeavor by the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) launched to determine how sponsorships contribute to brand and business outcomes and to provide a “roadmap” for marketers to increase their return on sponsorship investments.

The SAM Project has standardized the marketing language of sponsorship (through the Universal Marketing Dictionary), compiled the most substantive repository of practical sponsorship-related best practices (the Sponsorship Accountability Series), and addressed emerging sponsorship opportunities. For example, the project was the first to address the NIL+I (Name, Image, Likeness and Influence) opportunity in college athletics; holding summit sessions and debriefings on the topic to guide policy makers, marketers and measurement agencies.

The SAM Project remains a vibrant initiative with participating marketers, measurement providers, agencies and academic institutions collaborating on improving the sponsorship literature, establishing standards, and addressing emerging sponsorship opportunities. All MASB members with an interest in the subject are invited to participate.


In late 2017, several marketers requested that MASB address an inability to quantify returns from sponsorship at a time when investments in sponsorship were growing, audiences were fragmenting, and robust measurement was lacking.

3 Stages of Sponsorship Accountability
The Three Stages of Sponsorship Accountability

In early 2018, MASB and the ANA conducted a quantitative survey of current marketer practices and follow-up qualitative research with the responding marketers. The resulting report identified numerous areas in need of improvement in the current sponsorship state of the art.

Primary among these was the finding that little progress had been made in measuring sponsorship return on objectives and return on investment over the preceding decade. In addition, a two-dimension, three-stage maturity model was uncovered, delineating the path most marketers move along during their sponsorship accountability journey.

In one dimension, marketers progress from property-provided metrics (which may lack transparency and have bias) to independently verified metrics. The other dimension relates to the types of metrics used in making sponsorship decisions.

Most marketers begin with marketing equivalency – understanding how many impressions sponsorships are generating and how much those impressions would cost if generated in other channels. They then progress to measuring the quality of the impressions generated by their impact on awareness, attitudes, preference and other return-on-objective (ROO) metrics.

While still somewhat rare, some marketers have advanced to true financial attribution – measuring the return on investment (ROI) of sponsorships and how they compare to investments in other marketing investments.

Since the release of this research, MASB has brought together sponsorship experts to document sponsorship accountability best practices and help marketers on their journey. Released through the Sponsorship Accountability Series, these best practices cover types of metrics, brand fit considerations, activation techniques, utilization of underleveraged rights, and portfolio management.

This team remains active applying this knowledge to emerging opportunities, including esports, NIL+I, and pandemic response. We are currently working to compile this knowledge into a sponsorship accountability book, the ultimate roadmap for marketers to manage sponsorships.

In addition, MASB’s marketing accountability experts are available to and are regularly engaged by marketers to benchmark their sponsorship practices.


We invite marketers, academics, measurement providers, and other agencies to participate in this MASB-sponsored initiative.
The benefits are clear. Participants have access to the most up-to-date sponsorship accountability knowledge and will help set the sponsorship innovation agenda for the marketing industry. This includes the examination of emerging sponsorship opportunities and providing input on national and international standards.

To schedule a meeting to discuss participation, please contact MASB Executive Director Frank Findley, [email protected].

Sponsorship Accountability Series

Part 1: Elusive Dream or Quantifiable Reality?
Part 2: Sponsorship Strategy and Brand Fit
Part 3: The Business Case for the Business Case
Part 4: Driving Sponsorship Value with Stewardship and Strategic Activation
Part 5: Measurement
Part 6: eSports  An emerging sponsorship opportunity as great as the Super Bowl?
Part 7: Social Distancing – A Boon for eSports?
Part 8: Can Social Media Drive Accountable Sponsorship?
Part 9: Name, Image, Likeness AND Influence
Part 10: Name, Image, Likeness and Influence – What Have We Learned from the First Year of College Athlete Sponsorship?

SAM Project Updates [Members Only]