Time Out’s Winning Formula for Selling Event Sponsorships
Connecting the digital world to the real world in a way that's relevant to, or enhances, the consumer experience.
Great brands have long understood that offering consumers unforgettable moments creates an emotional connection that advertising alone can’t always deliver. Almost 100 years ago, an iconic brand moment was born: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Started in 1924, it has been televised for over 60 years and is now also live-streamed via YouTube. Each year, this spectacular event attracts millions of people and viewers who get to experience a unique moment which is tied to brands, and Macy’s itself.
Such events bring to life a brand message and make it an interactive, very real experience. Today, particularly within a multi-touchpoint campaign with complementing digital elements, experiential offers brands differentiated and effective opportunities.
At Time Out, we have seen in recent years a growth in appetite for a new breed of events from our advertising partners as part of their wider campaigns. We believe that we are uniquely placed to deliver these, amplifying what Time Out has always been known for: making the most of a city. That’s why, when it comes to the best city experiences, we don’t just curate and write about them, we now also create and deliver them. In 2016, Time Out organized a record 250 Live Events across London and U.S. cities for an audience of 80,000 people.
Sharing meaningful experiences and unforgettable moments
Live Events provide the perfect brand-in-hand activation, offering attendees an immediate experience of a partner’s product or service and enabling them to form their own memories rather than just dictating advertising messages to them. In an increasingly digitalized world, people want to enjoy things that go under their skin together with like-minded people. It’s about moments that are emotional and shareable. That doesn’t mean that social media and the digital world doesn’t influence this trend. In fact, they play a key role as consumers will be more inclined to recommend something after an immediate, unforgettable first-hand experience.
We recently delivered “Passport to Portugal,” an activation for TAP Air Portugal which provided New Yorkers a real Portuguese experience without leaving the city, spanning the country’s food, music, and culture. This event was part of a multi-touchpoint campaign across digital, social, and print. It was a really interesting global first for us, with Time Out’s U.S. and Portuguese teams working together, creating an authentic experience to inspire future visitors. Part of the campaign was a social media video with a record 400,000 views in just one day, created by both teams to showcase the best things to do in Lisbon in 24 hours.
Tapping into a global network of local experts in cities around the world
Many businesses say content is king, but for us it truly is and has always been at the heart of everything we do. We attract a global monthly audience of 242 million with our curated, hyper-local content. It is our expertise that makes the content as exciting and surprising for locals as it is invaluable and insightful for visitors. This has a huge influence on the decision making of our audience: 95 percent of whom do something as a result of engaging with our content. Advertising partners crave this type of positive, high-quality content. They want to see their products within a brand safe environment, and connect with this engaged audience and our trusted brand.
With such a huge reach comes an abundance of data, which we use to glean insights that inform our partners and demonstrate success. There are a number of ways we do this, including interest and ticket sales from events, to on-site and post-event surveys which allow us to monitor and quantify the direct effect of being a sponsoring partner at our events.
For example, following a recent event in the U.S., one of our sponsoring partners saw very strong increases in the following brand metrics: 81 percent of event attendees were aware of the brand (17 percent lift over non-event attendees) and one-third were more likely to purchase the brand the next time they were shopping in the category.
Relevant 360-degree targeting of a hard to reach audience
Our audience are the much-coveted and often hard to reach millennials, and we give brands a unique, authentic and effective way to connect with them. They are experience-hungry, hugely active and engaged urbanites and influencers, always looking for the next great thing to do and share. Having been in the business of discovering cities — we’re present in 108 cities in 39 countries — for almost 50 years, we have a very good understanding of what they are craving and an even better idea of how to deliver it. This enables us to create bespoke sponsorship packages — or what we like to call a 360-degree program across all of our channels.
For the Battle of the Burger in New York, L.A., and Chicago, we curated each city’s 40 best burgers, with our audience selecting the finalists they then got to enjoy at a Live Event. It was key to balance advertising and editorial content before, during, and after, across our high-traffic websites, magazines and social channels, via video and CRM. This offered our sponsoring partners (such as Budweiser, Guinness and Cholula) a way to engage with our audience and brand in a fun and differentiated way over several weeks across a variety of channels. It is a very special burger-sauce-beer-in-hand activation.
Regardless of the medium or platform for your activation, it’s essential that sponsorships are relevant to, or enhance the consumer experience. Our brand partners are a key element in bringing events to life, and the right brand fit is important to creating authenticity at Live Events. That’s why Time Out Live Events must have a strong connection with our unique content, the city and our audience to make it an unforgettable, shareable experience and a success for our partners.