How Sponsorships Can Work for a Variety of Initiatives

Share |

Two years ago, the Book Industry Study Group, with all of its 138 members, had to make some money. So Brian O'Leary, BISG executive director, decided to do webinars—more specifically sponsored webinars. 33 of them. In one year. All sponsored.

"[Vendors] can see the value in being positioned against a topic or series of topics that help them cultivate a specific audience," O'Leary told Associations Now.

The sponsorships "drew in members who had otherwise become disengaged and gave them a crucial market niche to sell to." Membership is now at 167, a big leap for a small organization.

Here are some other sponsorship examples:

Podcasts. Podcasts are perfectly suited to sponsorships. We almost expect a host to come on and say, "Welcome to XYZ Podcast, sponsored today by ABC Company." When AdExchanger launch its interview-format podcast focused on media and marketing technology, the quality of guests was foremost in their minds. So executive editor Zach Rodgers recorded interviews with CEOs from Omnicom Group, Bleacher Report, The Trade Desk, The New York Times and Vox Media, and the podcast quickly found its audience—to the tune of 4,000-plus downloads per episode.

Their sponsorships sold out. So AdExchanger added another podcast back in July. The Big Story features roundtable discussion on the week's top news stories with the AdExchanger editorial team. And you see this sentence under a big logo: "The Big Story is Sponsored by"

"We just started talking about news of the day, significant developments," Rodgers said. "I think it's going well. We're even considering a third one, if we can differentiate it from the other two. There's an audience and it's not a fad. We're bundling the buy [for sponsors] and you can get both. We're reporting on an area that has a significant advertising base."

Reports. The median monthly PVs in 2019 for Nextgov—Government Executive Media Group's go-to information resource for federal technology decision-makers—are 40% higher than they were in 2017. A big reason, as I wrote in an article in March, is their much improved website featuring mobile-first design, optimal content placement, an events portal and on-target editorial. All that has helped to lead to more sponsorships. Their top special report last year, Modernization Nation, has four sponsors listed on its webpage. There's also a sponsor message on the homepage from the U.S. General Services Administration.

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 last month. "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."

Here's copy from their Biopharma Dive Advertising page: "Put your brand in front of biotech & pharma execs. BioPharma Dive is a digital publication reaching over 184,000 industry decision makers. Our readers rely on our free newsletters to deliver news and trends shaping their industry. Our marketing campaigns can help you: Generate leads for your sales team; Tell your company's story via content marketing; Position your company as a leader on key industry topics; Increase brand recognition through reach and repetition."

Quizzes. Education Week launched its quizzes in the spring of 2017 using a 3-month sponsorship model with 8-10 questions per quiz. The product's success moved them to a 1-month sponsorship model as they were able to hit their "lead targets more quickly than anticipated." Sponsors get their logo on the start page, branding opportunities on the quiz pages and a big "Find Out More" button after the quiz has been completed.

"We set goals for our first year that included number of sponsorships, percentage of quiz completions, percentage of people completing the quiz filling out the registration form and becoming a lead, and overall leads generated," wrote Dave Rosenzweig, product manager, Education Week Press. "In each of these areas, we exceeded our goals including nearly 90% quiz completions and around 60% of people completing the quiz filling out the registration form."

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
If not, you're missing out on daily strategies, tips, profiles and case studies that can build your audience and increase revenue. To sign up, please contact Nevena Jovanovic.

Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…