We all know that sponsorships provide significant ROI in terms of assisting you with event costs, and when the vast majority of events were in person, it was relatively simple to attract sponsors. There were well established rules of pricing when it came to buying booths, displaying banners and having sponsors host sessions; and sponsors knew what they were going to get for their all important dollar.
But in the new — and still relatively unknown — virtual world, it can be difficult to identify valuable sponsorship opportunities that get the dollars rolling in. When it comes to communicating the value of sponsorships in the virtual space, things become a bit trickier because the standards have shifted quickly, and they continue to shift; but with the right strategy and platform, you can continue to provide significant value and opportunities for sponsors.
In today’s article we break down a few sponsorship opportunities to hone in on in the virtual space.
Ads and Banners
In person events abound in banners, posters, merch and other uses of real estate to emblazon sponsor logos and branding. The point of all of this advertising? Create impressions and raise awareness among attendees, with the goal of turning those attendees into leads and, ultimately, sales. Sponsors know that when they “buy out” the event lobby, they’re going to be seen by every attendee that walks through the door. The good news is, this can be translated online.
Depending on the virtual event platform you choose, there are numerous ad and banner placements available. Each page of a virtual site presents opportunities to place eye-catching sponsorships. Some examples include:
Special sponsor pages
You can also get creative with co-branding opportunities to increase the visibility of your sponsors, such as:
Event banner / header image
Virtual swag bags
And virtual ads and banners can provide even more value than their IRL counterparts for two main reasons: 1) tracking, and 2) conversion. In virtual, precise numbers can be gathered about how many people viewed ads, how many of these views were unique, and how many were repeats. Virtual platforms can even generate and track clicks (try clicking a banner 20 ft from the floor in an exhibition hall — go on, we dare you!).
Bottom line? Virtual can provide more sponsor ad opportunities and detailed analytics including:
WHO clicked (leads!!!)
This level of precision is a great selling point because it means that sponsors won’t have to stumble around in the dark trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and you can demonstrate real, tangible ROI.
Sponsors always appreciate the opportunity to have the undivided attention of attendees, and targeted content is a great way to do just that. Sponsored content can be sold as an opportunity all it’s own or coupled with ads, exhibitor booths or other opportunities to reinforce the impressions already made.
For example, you could offer top tier sponsorships a keynote speaking opportunity with no competing sessions. Or you could require a larger sponsorship package to get this kind of visibility. Lower tier sponsors could be invited to join a panel or host a breakout session.
In addition to speaking opportunities, other sponsored content opportunities include:
Video bumpers (pre-roll) before the start of sessions
Facilitating games and activities
Leading networking sessions
Hosting cocktail hours
We admit that sponsored content is nothing new, but the detailed audience and engagement analytics sweeten the deal for sponsors in the virtual space.
Another important note to consider is that when a session is done and over with during an in person event, the sponsor’s visibility diminishes as well. But in the virtual world, that content — and the sponsor’s presence — can live on for days, weeks, months or even years beyond the session or event.
Think about it. When you attend a live event, you are forced to choose between concurrent sessions. But in the virtual world — where much of the content is recorded and can be made available on demand later — an attendee is forced to choose between sessions and may have to miss sponsored content for a higher priority. But in the virtual world they can come back and watch that sponsored session later. That’s a huge value for sponsors!
A primary value of exhibiting has always been that sponsors can interact with attendees directly, building connections through high-touch communication and sharing their products and services. The problem that commonly arises in the virtual world is getting traffic to booths. Exhibitors complain about sitting in a virtual ‘booth’ twiddling their thumbs and waiting for attendees to pop by to say hi.
Hey, we get it. When there’s not free swag to snatch off a table some attendees just skip it altogether. And instead of killing time between sessions or during breaks by meandering the expo hall, attendees now check email or do the laundry. But there are some benefits to virtual exhibition.
One major benefit is that the leads are generally higher quality because the attendees visiting the booth are genuinely interested in learning about the company (they’re not just there to snatch some free swag while pretending to care).
Another benefit is that, by shifting to the virtual realm, sponsors don’t have to consider the costs of traveling to an event, merchandise, set up, etc.
Expo booth logistics are a little different from platform to platform in the virtual space, but generally speaking they’re branded virtual spaces with some mechanism for communication between attendees and sponsors. That communication often occurs through a combination of live text chat, live video and/or live audio.
Virtual exhibitor booths are convenient for attendees as well, because they are not necessarily locked into visiting during exhibition hall hours. As with content, exhibitor spaces can be left open and accessible throughout the event and beyond. This also gives attendees the ability to visit a virtual booth after hours and not have to miss valuable content.
At encaptiv, we provide opportunities for sponsors to have a presence with their booth, even when the exhibitor is not actively online to interact. Exhibitors have the flexibility to add their logo, promotional video, information about their company, calls to action, chat, polls and more — all of which accessible to attendees even when an exhibitor isn’t in their booth. And should an exhibitor want to have live interaction with attendees, they can utilize live video chat for group demos or 1-on-1 meetings.
Virtual events are often dismissed as not having enough valuable opportunities for sponsors; but as we’ve just shown, the opportunities haven’t disappeared, they’ve just changed. What hasn’t changed is the desire for sponsors to get their brand and content in front of your audience.
There are plenty of ways to communicate value to sponsors, and when it comes down to it, they’re looking to connect and engage with their target audience at your event.