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Custom Content, Webcasts and Video Can Be Prime Areas for Sponsors

Sponsorships can come in many ways, from events and coffee mugs to podcasts and custom content. With event registration revenue dropping so significantly this year, the importance of attaining sponsorships only amplifies—not just for events but for all those other areas as well.
Here are six successful examples of sponsorships in other areas of the publishing business.
The Skimm – in-content mentions. “Feeling stuck in a rut?” today’s Daily Skimm asks at the bottom. “Same. So we partnered with Mentos Pure Fresh Gum to bring you some ways to shake things up. Because Mentos is all about fresh ideas, fresh breath, and fresh perspectives. This week, we’re talking about refreshing your WFH video calls.” They go on to list three bullets: Check your lighting; reserve your space; and take breaks. “Science says breaks improve productivity. So actively schedule time to refresh between video calls. Then make the most of it by popping in some Mentos Pure Fresh Gum, taking a walk, and giving your brain a reset. Ahhh.”
Modern Distribution Management – sponsored webcasts. MDM has been having success with sponsored webcasts for many years. It’s impressive that the webcasts are relatively frequent—at least twice a month—and can go five or six episodes with a different sponsor each time. Particularly impressive is a webcast from a few weeks ago titled MDM’s Top Distributors of 2020. It featured five members of the MDM team including CEO Tom Gale and editor in chief Elizabeth Galentine, and was sponsored by infor.
Harvard Business Review – banner ads and report/webinar partners. Banner ads get their share of grief, but you still see them fairly frequently everywhere—so they must still be working to some extent. HBR uses them—“See how RMS helps customers outperform” tops the Technology page. A Salesforce-sponsored content ad tops the Diversity section. For their popular Podcast section, there’s a banner ad and then an array of unsponsored podcasts. But at the bottom there’s a Partner Center that lists four HBR happenings that are sponsored—a workplace report sponsored by Facebook; a radiology AI report sponsored by Siemens Healthineers; a webinar sponsored by Verizon; and a live Q&A Ask HBR sponsored by Meltwater, a SaaS company.
The Atlantic – sponsored multimedia. At the top of a story from a couple years ago titled, The Rise of the Connected Family, these words stare out: “CRAFTED BY THE ATLANTIC’S MARKETING TEAM AND PAID FOR BY NEST.” The article is about how technology in the home is changing family dynamics. It features expert interviews, research, images, graphics, and product recommendations—showing off Nest’s advanced tech without too much selling. Including other brand names gives it a more balanced read. At the bottom of the story are Nest products, a personal video, testimonials and an infographic.
Meister Media – custom content and video. “Our dedicated, award-winning team of marketing strategists, designers, writers, web developers, and project management specialists will make your DREAM custom project a REALITY,” says the Meister Custom Team page. For example, a company called Brandt asked Meister Media Worldwide to produce a marketing video featuring a grower who just had a record soybean harvest. BRANDT used the polished video for their sales meeting. KeyPlex wanted website content and design. BASF asked for educational content. It’s a staff commitment but for the right niches—can pay off.
Industry Dive – lead campaigns. “In the broadest sense, we are 99.9% advertising-based but that doesn’t mean Web ads,” Industry Dive CEO Sean Griffey said earlier this year. “Pure digital display is probably less than 10% of revenue. The rest of it comes from the brand studio which is approaching 20% of our growth revenue, and newsletters and lead campaigns. When we say lead campaigns, very few of our products are priced as guaranteed leads, it’s more of a sponsorship basis. But at the end of the day, most of our advertisers are evaluating their success based on the leads that they generate from us.”
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How to Best Help Sponsors and Attendees Succeed at Virtual Events

“The more interactivity you put into any of these [virtual events], the better and the more effective it’s going to be,” said Ben Hindman, CEO of events marketing platform Splash. The Atlantic Festival, their big event of the year, will try to accomplish this by including smaller breakout sessions and 20-person roundtables during the daytime portions of the festival to give attendees the chance to speak directly to the presenters and the editors, according to Digiday.
But that interactivity is crucial for exhibitors and vendors as well. A new report from Tradeshow Logic titled Redefining Value for Today’s Exhibitors & Sponsors (download free here) suggests that organizations need to help their exhibitors and vendors to succeed. “Even though virtual platforms are touted as ‘turnkey,’ they still require significant marketing and promotion investment from your exhibitors and sponsors [and you] in order to get a worthwhile return,” the report notes.
Over a 2-week period in May 2020, Tradeshow Logic surveyed 13,435 individuals at companies that exhibit at and sponsor events across diverse industries. Here are some findings and ways you can help your sponsors and attendees to succeed virtually:
Choose your platform with care. “Show organizers need to employ the same rigor for developing a virtual event’s commercial value propositions as they do for a live event. Develop goals, objectives and a strategic plan before selecting a digital platform. Like venues, not all platforms are created equal and it’s important to find one that meets the organization’s unique needs.”
Remember, this is a different game. “A virtual/digital event should not try to replicate a face-to-face event, but instead act as a new form of engagement that permanently augments the promotion of all future conferences/tradeshows.” Think about what digital is good at—looking up information quickly; taking quizzes and voting on polls; watching demos.
Have help ready. Make sure you, your virtual platform provider and/or an external resource are prepared to offer tutorials, detailed run-throughs and a virtual concierge to assist with the technical aspects of your event.
How’s your 3D? New product promotion and introduction is one of the three most important tools of engagement for exhibitors and sponsors. They still want to engage as much as possible in conversation. “They’re concerned about the loss of the physical interaction that allowed customers to see and touch products. Implementing a live demonstration or 3D video component in your virtual event experience is important and will be well received by your exhibitors and sponsors.”
Schedule time for attendees to meet with exhibitors. It’s important that your virtual event allow for as much networking and ‘face-to-face’ time as possible. Just like a live event, ensure that there are adequate opportunities for attendees to listen to industry education, view product demonstrations or meet in a group or individually with exhibitors and sponsors.
Maximize face-to-face time. Direct interaction with potential customers matters for exhibitors at virtual events, who want to offer education or product demos to attendees. Give them some choices to how they want to engage with attendees.
Make the value of participating clear. Exhibitors want to gain leads and make sales, and they’re not sure a virtual experience can deliver them. Articulating how those results are possible will help ensure exhibitor investment, the report says.
Engagement should take place before, during and after. If you’ve ever been to a live taping of a talk or game show, there’s usually a person on the stage to get the audience excited and ready to engage. You may need something or someone similar for your event—perhaps a webinar a week before or a 5-minute motivational talk to start each event day. And then after, when your content is on demand, don’t expect attendees to just flock there. Encourage it, advertise it, remind them. Have roundtables or articles that send them there.
Again download the report here.