Like most roads, the road to monetization often leads back to content. Whether it is an overall event sponsorship you are selling, a content specific sponsorship, or access to specific content, the primary reason people attend an online program is to gain new knowledge.
Let’s start with the low hanging fruit; content people need and will pay money to access. As an example, one of the most successful virtual events is Social Media Summit. They consistently sell tickets to attend their annual event online and sell a lot! At $495 (at least last I checked that was the price) they have had events that have been attended by around 2,000 people. They have great content, a hot subject and lots of people to sell to.
There are associations that routinely make hundreds of thousands of dollars selling virtual-only registrations to their events at the full price of an in-person registration. People are willing to pay if the content is really important to them and may be willing to pay full price for the convenience of not having to leave their office or practice.
The key is to have content that people are willing and able to pay for (that by the way, is a good rule to have no matter what content you are sharing). That’s where your work comes in… finding out what that is and then putting a plan together to create/capture it AND THEN MARKETING. Don’t neglect to explore marketing partnerships either! The beauty of this type of digital product is that the cost doesn’t go up based on the use so you can be very aggressive with partner commissions.
Overall event sponsorship will vary depending on the type of event, the audience, the potential sponsors and the options in the technology you are using. Giving your sponsors the opportunity to have their content featured in a session or multiple sessions is usually a big benefit. Sponsoring individual session content may have appeal as well. Here you can offer a graphic or video message at either the beginning (of the event? Session?) or end or both. Some technology allows you to brand the player on which the remote audience is watching the stream/recording, or brand the live stream image itself with lower thirds or other options.
If you happen to be producing a hybrid event (in-person audience as well as online) you might consider setting up a studio at the event that’s used to interview your sponsor’s subject matter experts, attendees and speakers. The content would be streamed to the remote audience when there’s nothing to stream from the event onsite (i.e. during breaks). There are many ways to monetize with sponsorships of the studio, during the live event and also during any rebroadcast.
Advertising benefits are also a significant way to sell sponsorships. These can also be sold as standalone services if you have a large enough audience. You can include banner ads on the streaming player, pop up ads, and video ads played between programs. Some virtual event technologies will accommodate push messages and ads to the remote audience within event-related emails sent to attendees and potential attendees before, during and after the event.
We’ll come back to the subject of monetization again in the near future with a more exhaustive look.