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What Sponsors Want (from a Live Webcast)

  
  
  
  

I recently read an interesting post on Chris Brogan's blog entitled What Sponsors Want.  The post was pretty relevant, even if it was not all that specific, to live events and webcast productions.  The three main points are:

  1. Sponsors want your audience.
  2. Your audience wants good content.
  3. You have to make good on both.

Since his post was short on the specifics, I thought we would expand on how it's possible to incorporate these ideas into your next live event and increase your event's value for your audience and sponsors.

Live events shape the sport

Sponsors Want Your Audience

Live events shape the sport.  Nowhere else in sport does so much happen in such a short time, so conveniently, live, in front of so many people.  From elevating unknown athletes from the depths of obscurity to the pinnacle of fame or watching a veteran redeem themselves from an injury, illness or disappointing past, live events are where it happens.  A live broadcast enables your audience, your sponsors' customers, for whom these stories have the most meaning, to be a part of it, as it happens, irrespective of their location.

For advertisers wanting to reach that audience, live events are understandably irresistible.  Who wouldn't want to capitalize on their product being integral to the story?

While you don't have control over what the story will be, you do have control over how many people will see it.  Promoting your live broadcast is certainly one required element.  In webcasting, however, nothing seems to work better than an agnostic approach to webcast distribution.  Agnostic webcast distribution means not selling the exclusive distribution rights to one outlet, rather providing your content to as many relevant community websites as possible.  We've been able to increase audiences as much as 3000% using this approach. 

Although it is tempting to take up front money for exclusive distribution, we think providing greater value for all your sponsors through the largest possible audience is more rewarding in the end.  Hey, even Red Bull is doing it.

Your Audience Wants Good Content

"Content is King" and I refuse to believe anything else.  The problem with that statement is that creating good content is really really hard work.  The fact that the outcome of a live event is impossible to predict makes it that much more difficult.

How do you quantify good content?  That's a difficult, but important question.  After all, how can you determine value if you can't measure it?  In a marketplace with so many content options, we think one metric stands above all others, the length of time the event was watched.  Time is the valuable commodity your audience exchanges for your content.  The more time your viewers give, the more valuable your content.

While you can't control the outcome of your event, there are a number of things you do have control over to make your content more valuable.  In our experience, live chat, amazing visuals, insightful announcers, good storytelling, interaction between your viewers and the event and a number of other elements, all increase the time your viewers watch.  The key is making your audience so engaged, they'll watch all the way to the end.

However, in webcasting, nothing ruins the value of your content faster than buffering, stuttering and craptactular streaming.  No matter how awesome the riding, how incredible your camera work, how mind blowing your graphics, how insightful your commentary, it doesn't matter if no one can see it.

You have to make good on both

You need to give your sponsors access, but you need protect your audience from your sponsor's access ruining the quality of your content.

However we don't believe that advertising and content quality is necessarily mutually exclusive.  Our opinion is that the best way to serve both masters is by making your sponsors and audience engagement relevant.  Any ad campaign in which viewers have sought out advertising has been successful at this.

While this is certainly challenging, it is possible to enhance the experience for your audience while providing access.  The result is that you create a powerful connection between your viewers and your sponsors while enhancing the value of your content.

That sounds like a sponsor's dream to me.

What ways can you incorporate your sponsors so that they enhance the experience for your audience? 

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