In today’s world, sponsorships are more important than ever before. From car sponsorship deals to soft drink, travel, and sporting event sponsorships, businesses large and small depend on sponsorships for their revenue.
Traditional sponsorship marketing focuses on the top-down approach of pitching sponsorships to top-tier brands that can afford to buy ads in traditional media channels such as television or the print newspaper. While these forms of media still hold a prominent place in our culture, the internet has fundamentally changed the way we discover, research and purchase products.
Thanks to platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads, which allow businesses to directly target the consumers they most want to reach, the way we get our news and learn about products has markedly shifted towards a more top-down, brand-centric approach.
The downside to this approach is that it often leaves businesses ill-equipped to engage with their audience beyond the brand’s messaging and most importantly, unable to track the success of their sponsored content strategy.
To better understand how online marketing sponsorships work, and how to utilize them for your business, we must first dive into the theory.
How Online Marketing Works
In digital marketing, advertisers pay to have their content (typically in the form of an ad) displayed to users in return for their attention and interaction with the sponsoring brand’s content.
This model has been extremely successful, as shown by the fact that 89% of American adults use some form of digital media in their day-to-day lives, according to a 2017 report from the Pew Research Center.
As this is essentially a donation-based model, advertisers have to be convinced that their investment in digital marketing will ultimately result in a profitable return. To do this, they look to metrics like cost-per-acquisition (CPA) and cost-per-click (CPC) to determine the effectiveness of their ad spend.
However, beyond the digital sphere, businesses are still reliant on traditional media to drive traffic to their website and social media to promote their products. While the internet allows for digital marketing to be highly targeted, traditional media channels allow for more engagement with the public.
With all this in mind, it’s clear that traditional and digital marketing work hand-in-hand, and that neither would exist in their present form without the other. Moreover, today’s consumers have a myriad of options in terms of how and where they get their news. This makes it increasingly hard for businesses to effectively reach their audience and grow their fan base through traditional marketing methods alone.
To succeed in today’s competitive marketplace, businesses need to look to newer forms of marketing, including online marketing sponsorships.
The Benefits of Online Marketing Sponsorships
If we compare the benefits of digital marketing with those of traditional marketing, we can quickly see why online marketing sponsorships are a preferable choice for many business owners.
Firstly, the costs are generally lower with online marketing sponsorships. This is mainly because advertisers have more control over the types of content that they can engage with their audience through sponsored content. Moreover, since businesses are essentially paying to have their content seen by the right people, the rates are often much cheaper than traditional ad buys.
Secondly, businesses can engage with their audience through several different channels. This is highly beneficial in today’s world, where people are constantly moving between different platforms to get the information they need. To retain their audience, businesses should look to establish themselves as an authoritative source in their industry through high-quality content published frequently.
Thirdly, thanks to the viral nature of social media platforms like TikTok and Twitter, businesses that engage with their audience through online marketing sponsorships can expect to see a considerable return on their investment. Moreover, since businesses are paying to have their content promoted, they have the opportunity to influence people to action – whether this is signing up to a mailing list, making a purchase, or subscribing to a service.
Finally, businesses that utilize online marketing sponsorships can expect to see measurable results fairly quickly. According to HubSpot Blogs research, 77% of businesses that engaged with their customer base through social media marketing saw a significant increase in website traffic as a result of their efforts.
Despite their many benefits, online marketing sponsorships are often seen as a quick-win project for small businesses, since most platforms allow for limited companies to set up accounts. If you’re looking for a long-term, stable source of business, you may want to consider other options.
How To Approach Your Online Marketing Sponsorship Strategy
Since businesses that utilize online marketing sponsorships are paying to have their content promoted, it’s important to approach this part of your marketing strategy with extreme caution. To ensure that you’re doing this for the right reasons, consider the following points:
- Building a sustainable business
- Gaining a higher audience reach
- More influential positioning
- Higher click-through rates (CTRs)
- Increased brand loyalty
If you’re able to achieve all of these goals, then you may want to consider pursuing online marketing sponsorships, but only if you can afford to.
The Difference Between Sponsorships, Partnerships, and Advertiserships
To better understand the difference between ads, partnerships, and sponsorships, let’s first take a quick look at the terms:
- Publishers’ ads – Publisher’s ads are the ads that appear as part of a business’s product review or editorial content.
- Product placement – Product placement involves the use of a company’s name or logo in connection with a non-branded product or service. For example, a technology company might place a Nest thermostat in the corner of a home appliance store.
- Sponsorships – Sponsorships are when a company or business pays to have their brand or product featured in a web content project (such as a blog post or social media channel).
- Advertiserships – Advertiserships are when a company or business pays to have their brand or product featured in an ad that is distributed externally (such as in a newspaper or on a billboard).
As you can see above, these are just some of the common forms of advertising. While some forms are more suited to digital marketing, like sponsorships and advertiserships, others are more effective when used in traditional marketing, like partnerships and product placements.
Based on the type of content you’re producing, consider which form of advertising makes the most sense for your business. Moreover, since you’re able to make direct contact with potential customers through online marketing sponsorships, it’s important that you vet your partners closely to ensure that they hold the same vision as you do for your business.
Top-Down Versus Bottom-Up Marketing
Another area of contrast between top-down and bottom-up marketing involves the motivation of business and consumers. In a top-down approach, the consumer is a passive recipient of the marketing message, while in a bottom-up approach, the consumer shares the same characteristics as the market being targeted. In other words, the consumer is actively participating in the marketing process.
While the above may seem like a theoretical discussion, this is an area that often comes up in practice. For example, when you’re trying to grow a business that sells organic food, a top-down approach, where you approach major brands and influential individuals to get them to promote your products, may make sense. However, if you’re looking to break into the industry, a bottom-up approach, where you establish your own stores in small towns, grows your own produce, and offers affordable quality food, might be a better option.
The Rise of Audience-Oriented Marketing
Over the past decade, we’ve seen the rise of many traditional media platforms, like Snapchat and TikTok, which exist primarily for the purpose of entertaining their audience.
These platforms are largely driven by the principle of ”catch and retain the audience,” which simply means that the content created for these platforms, whether it’s a lip-sync battle or short-form documentary videos, needs to be entertaining in order to gain the most traction from a largely digital audience.
In an effort to retain their audience on these platforms, entertainers, brands, and businesses are increasingly turning to other digital platforms, like social media and emails, to promote their work and attract new audiences.