Traditional sponsorships—placing company logos and messages on banners, window clings, signage, badge stock, and lanyards or underwriting lounges, meals, and parties—differ in many ways from technology-based event sponsorship opportunities. While there are benefits, the return on investment (ROI) is difficult to quantify, and they do not easily provide measurable engagement, feedback, or data. The methodologies for measuring the effectiveness of banners and signage, for example, include post-event surveys and analysis to prove brand awareness and other objectives, which can be expensive.
Traditional Event Sponsorships vs. Technology Sponsorships
On the other hand, the return on technology sponsorships, which can include interactive digital signage, mobile applications, games, social media activations, and other digital platforms, is highly measurable. The data byproducts are more obtainable and immediate. Metrics, such as downloads, clickthroughs, and survey responses can be delivered to sponsors in real time, providing proof of the return on investment as well as actionable intelligence. Technology sponsorships can deliver on more than brand awareness objectives. They can provide actual engagement.
Traditional sponsorships can be easier to understand, less expensive, and more accessible. Thousands may pass through the lobby of the convention center where a banner hangs, whereas only hundreds might see the sponsor splash page on a mobile app that has poor adoption at the event. Nevertheless, traditional sponsorship opportunities are somewhat limited. There is a finite amount of physical space and number of activities in any given event. In the technology arena, the choices are virtually unlimited, and innovation in technology sponsorships is moving quickly.
Did You Know?
Commercial sponsorship emerged during the post-modern period of the mid-twentieth century. The 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California prominently showcased commercial sponsorship. For the first time, soft drink firms Coca-Cola and Pepsi bid against one another for the rights to become the exclusive sponsor of the games.
Thirty years later, Coca-Cola is still a major corporate sponsor of the International Olympic Games, paying in the range of $100 million US dollars for that privilege.
Most Common Event Technology Sponsorships
While sponsorship opportunities around augmented reality, virtual reality and the Internet of Things is coming closer to fruition in event environments, there are a variety of technology-based activations commonly in use at present. This is by no means a complete list and should be expanded by you on an ongoing basis.
Most Common Event Technology Sponsorships
Evaluate the Return on Investment (ROI) for Your Sponsors
With almost unlimited choices in the technological sponsorship arena, it is more critical than ever to show how your sponsors can benefit from supporting your meeting or event. You need to consider how you can show return on investment for your sponsors.
How Technology Sponsorships Benefit Sponsors
In addition to measurability and engagement, technology sponsorships provide a number of other benefits to sponsors:
- Flexibility. Digital sponsorships can be updated or modified quickly in response to changes in marketing campaigns or in the event of a company acquisition or merger
- Education. Interactive sponsorships can provide more complex and detailed information to attendees. Engagement with attendees can also foster learning
- Memorability. Experiential activations using technology can be more memorable (entertaining, emotional, thought-provoking) than traditional sponsorships
- Crossover. Engagement with one technology, a mobile device, for example, can easily be transferred to another platform like social media websites, extending the footprint of the sponsorship
- Differentiation. The medium is the message in technology sponsorships. The use of mobile apps or digital displays instead of vinyl banners and lanyards can in itself convey a more forward-thinking message about the sponsor to attendees
In addition, it can be argued that organizations with technology sponsorship offerings are viewed as more credible than organizations that only offer traditional sponsorships.
Mapping Sponsor Objectives to Technology Offerings
With a solid understanding of how a particular technology works and the specific benefits it delivers, you can begin matching technologies to sponsor objectives. The examples below illustrate how the features of a mobile event app address sponsor goals.
Brand Awareness in Mobile Event App
Interact with Attendees and Collect Insights
Brand Awareness Onsite
Direct Messages to Attendees
Measuring the ROI of Event Technology Sponsorships
To convince potential sponsors to purchase technology-based sponsorships, you have to be transparent about how such opportunities help them address ROI. There are a number of ways that technology sponsorships deliver on return on investment or return on objectives metrics. The simplest way to start is through the metrics that the specific activation provides, such as link clickthroughs, votes, and survey results; net new social media followers, likes, views, and shares; and downloads, in-app purchases, and email addresses. These metrics are most effective when they align with the sponsor’s objectives from the beginning.
But outputs like views and shares aren’t the same as outcomes, such as actual purchases, intent to buy, or brand awareness (technology sponsorships, like their traditional sponsorship counterparts, can also deliver on visibility metrics). This type of information isn’t normally within reach of event planners. What you can do, however, is to look for technology-sponsorship providers that can easily integrate with other solutions, such as the sponsor’s marketing automation or sales automation platforms so sponsors can convert outputs to outcomes more easily after the event.
According to a report from sponsorship research firm IEG, sponsors want help from event organizers and rightsholders to understand the ROI of sponsorships. In its annual What Sponsors Want And Where Dollars Will Go in 2016 report, the group says sponsors want the properties’ assistance in measuring return. “Providing fulfillment/recap reports were extremely valuable to them with the number who scored fulfillment reports highly jumping from 32 percent in 2014 to 52 percent in 2015.” You have to work closely with technology providers to develop reports they can give to sponsors to prove the ROI from the activation.
How to Price Event Technology Sponsorships
Pricing any sponsorship—traditional or technology-based—is more complicated than it seems. Setting the price at the same amount as the cost of the technology doesn’t recognize the true value of the sponsorship, which should, at the very least, include delivering exposure to and engagement with a pre-qualified audience. Plus, pricing a sponsorship at cost doesn’t add to the profitability of the event.
In fact, you should take three value components into consideration when pricing a technology-based sponsorship opportunity:
- Tangible value. The quantifiable value of any and all measurable benefits the sponsor receives (booth space, event tickets, online directory ads, game stops)
- Intangible value. The qualitative value of being associated with the event or with the technology
- Market value. The fee that other sponsors are willing to pay for similar offerings at similar events
Event organizers often bundle technology sponsorships, i.e. different technology features are included or excluded, depending on the sponsorship level. Table 5.b shows an example of four levels of sponsorship, each with a different grouping of features from a mobile event app. Each level should be priced commensurate with the components of the bundle and the associated value components
Recommended Read: How to Design an Event Sponsorship Package
Steps to Sponsorship Success
Selling a technology sponsorship requires a more elevated skill set than selling a traditional sponsorship. Sponsors are less familiar with technology offerings, and some are wary of “shiny objects.” To be successful, you have to understand the technology first before you can explain it and the benefits to potential sponsors. Second, you have to collaborate with sponsors to understand the target audience and goals for the sponsorship so that the technology implementation delivers on the sponsor’s objectives.
Technology sponsorships are highly dependent on the technology on which they are based. If the execution fails, for example, attendees neglect to download the mobile app or the digital game stops working, it can reflect poorly on the sponsor. Some sponsors are risk averse so selling them on an activation or technology that hasn’t been fully vetted will likely be met with hesitation or rejection. One remedy is to ask technology providers for references, case studies, and proof that the technology works before building it into a sponsorship offering.