NEW YORK: NASCAR has transformed its research and insights capabilities, giving the racing-car circuit's commercial partners – like Coca-Cola – a deeper insight into return on investment than ever before.

Sean Doherty, NASCAR director/digital and social-media engagement, told an American Marketing Association (AMA) webcast audience: "The Coca-Cola Co. came to us and wanted a brand analysis for each of their drivers.

"They wanted share for each driver; how each one engaged with fans; and the size of their social footprint. They wanted to be able to activate their brand against a track, a race, or off site as well." (For more, including details about NASCAR's marketing transformation, read Warc's exclusive article: NASCAR and Coca-Cola enhance sponsorship measurement.)

To better serve the needs of Coca-Cola and other sponsors, an industry-wide study in 2010 led to a new set of operating priorities. "We had to transition from a PR department to a fully-integrated marketing communications model," said Doherty.

"We took a deep dive into the industry's position relative to digital and social media. We researched the way that fans experienced our events. And we looked at the way people consumed other sports and entertainment properties. We searched for growth markets to attract new fans to the sport. And we also took a critical look at our current portfolio of drivers."

NASCAR found a partner to give it the tools required to make this transition, as information technology group Hewlett-Packer designed and created the Fan and Media Engagement Center.

This research facility features 13 screens of 46 inches in size, as well as three work stations and the analytical tools NASCAR needs to help race-car teams, tracks, sponsors, broadcast partners process more data faster.

The facility provided Coca-Cola with the insight it needed, as well as a deeper engagement for a group of existing sponsors that includes such other Fortune 100 companies as Sprint, Goodyear Tires, MillerCoors and ExxonMobil.

Data sourced from Warc