Real estate within digital event environments — from event apps to registration pages — has always been a hot spot for sponsorships. Images on landing pages, widgets on event app home pages, banner ads in speaker listings, and the like have been around for 15 years, and they’re not going anywhere.
But today, what has changed is the medium. Now, virtual events center around video content, and up to 80 percent of it will be consumed on demand after the event concludes.
Attendees’ video content habits have evolved on content streaming platforms in their daily lives, like YouTube, where they have learned to reach straight for the “Skip ad” button until the video content they came for begins to play. People generally have little patience for being marketed to when they come for interesting takeaways and actionable advice.
So how can you ensure you deliver real value to your event sponsors?
Fortunately, a generation of professional online content creators on these platforms have largely already cracked the code on delivering sponsor ROI to an audience trained to bypass any advertising they can opt out of.
The secret? Build it directly into the content.
To achieve that, you need top-quality virtual event production, dynamic live streaming capabilities, and a tech provider who will support you in executing engaging content for the online audience at your virtual or hybrid event.
Here are six strategies to get brand stakeholders the exposure they want without putting off an audience that came for the main event content.
The most straightforward way to incorporate sponsorship into the content is by producing it with a brand. Create a balanced programme by peppering brand talks among the expert-led sessions.
How it works: If sponsors can showcase their product in the context of an editorial-led session that is germane to the industry, they will maintain the attention of their target audience. As the suppliers and vendors in a business context, sponsors often have some of the most valuable and interesting insights to share. But if your sponsors seem more interested in selling than adding unbiased value, aim for a 2:1 ratio of editorial to sponsored content.
Pro Tip: Select a topic that speaks to a challenge your audience is facing and deliver solutions that are compelling yet concise. Avoid at all costs turning the brand talk into a 10- to 15-minute long commercial for a product or service to prevent attendee disengagement and inattention.
Dynamic Video and Live Streaming
To avoid the “Zoom fatigue” that comes with staring at the same screen for an extended period, a dynamic live stream that allows for creative speaker placements and informative graphics to add visual variety to your event content ensures that the eyes of those watching will remain unglazed throughout.
How it works: Have you ever noticed how YouTube influencers vary their shots and angles and alternate being on camera with other footage and images? Well, that’s no accident. Viewers enjoy visual novelty. Visually changing things up can be as important as the content itself when it comes to keeping eyes on the stream. Nobody wants to watch a talking head for 15 minutes straight.
Pro Tip: Use alternative displays and video layouts that support the session’s narrative and cadence. Be intentional about it.
Want to learn more about incorporating dynamic video layouts? Hopin recently acquired StreamYard, and has specialists on hand who can show you how to execute dynamic live streams that will increase engagement both during the event and on demand afterwards.
Video interstitial capabilities open up a wide range of sponsorship opportunities, from product placements to branded messages.
How it works: After securing attendees’ attention with a session, a dynamic video interstitial stands a good chance of riding that engagement momentum through to the end of the advertisement, especially if people are still chatting about the session in the chat/Q&A area next to the feed.
Pro Tip: Keep the video ad under 30 seconds to avoid causing attendees to drop off. Suggest that sponsors incorporate calls-to-action (CTAs) that relate to the event content or the session preceding the ad; if the audience stayed to the end of the session, you know the topic resonated with them.
For more on how best to incorporate video interstitials, your tech provider will be able to show you how to alternate between live and pre-recorded content in live streams, and to supply best practices for smoothing out transitions.
Overlays and Lower Third Graphics
While video interstitials appear between sessions and other event components, overlays and lower thirds appear directly on top of the feed. They can be used for many vital functions, like indicating session titles, speaker names and company affiliations, or upcoming sessions. You can also show session sponsorships or even use them to deliver timely prompts to incentivize attendees to engage with sponsors.
How it works: Attendees are likely at peak attention while watching the session and will instinctively read text that appears as part of the feed. By strategically timing brand placements, you can offer sponsors exposure when the audience is most likely to see it and create an association with thought leadership content as a result.
Best practice: Time brand placements to coincide with moments in the session designed to evoke emotional reactions or engagement, as that is when an audience will be most likely to remember it — but make sure the placement is contextually relevant, especially if it’s a call-to-action.
For example, if the speaker is recounting a story about overcoming a challenge with a tech solution, create a call-to-action prompting the audience to visit a sponsor’s booth to learn how to avoid it in the first place and display it at the story’s climax.
StreamYard by Hopin makes it possible to add a number of graphical elements to streams. Users can add these live during the recording to keep the production flexible.
Timely and Contextual Calls-to-Action
Carefully crafted content is powerful and can leave a lasting impression. The moment that this content is delivered is crucial, and taking advantage of intelligent calls-to-action can lead to high conversion rates.
How it works: People are more likely to respond favorably to a call-to-action right after you’ve delivered value. Make branded content available that compliments key sessions, brand talks, or other types of sponsor-led video content, and then use elements that are part of the stream itself to prompt people to access the material at key points in the session. This creates a compelling reason for attendees to access the content found in an expo or similar area.
Pro Tip: Once you’ve brought up the prompt in the live stream, make it simple for the audience to access the content by adding a link to it in the chat running alongside the video stream. If your chat is very active, some platforms will allow you to pin your message in the chat so it's linked at the top and easy for attendees to find and access. The last thing you want is for attendees to agree to the prompt and then get frustrated or lost looking for the next step.
The additional content should be topically relevant rather than sales focused. A good example of this would be a helpful checklist or best practice guide that complements the content. Your event tech provider should allow for uploading a range of document and media types within the platform, including videos, hyperlinks, file downloads, and embedded location listings from Google Maps.
Tangible Content Extensions
Hybrid events add new opportunities for sponsors. However, branding-only sponsorship opportunities like banners and swag often have a limited impact. Unless you’re providing high-quality swag desired by the audience, promotional products will quickly be left behind or easily forgotten.
One option is to match physical event objects and the process of collecting them with the content delivered.
How it works: The more senses you engage, the stronger the impression on your attendees’ memory. Making the content more tactile by delivering something physical that can be incorporated into the session is a great way to ensure that attendees retain it, and it also offers many opportunities for brand engagement and sponsorship.
Best practice: Incorporate an item that has practical utility so attendees are more likely to use it going forward. For example, USBs are always handy to have, and depending on the number of attendees, pre-loading them with useful branded content like a sponsored course or eBook that you refer to in the session is a great way to ensure it makes a lasting impression.
Virtual events offer sponsorship opportunities that are rife for engaging an attendee audience and securing real value for sponsors. Virtual and hybrid platforms like Hopin can reach audiences at a scale that can significantly exceed typical onsite expectations, and incorporating brand exposure into the content itself is key to delivering on the promise of that reach. Contact Hopin to learn more about integrating sponsorship with video, session, and overall event content.