SponsorHub Plays Matchmaker Between Brands and the Events They Fund
Step into most trade shows and it is easy to spot the companies that ponied up lots of cash to plaster their names all over the events. Putting a brand in front of the wrong audience, however, can be a costly waste. SponsorHub in New York has stepped in with an online marketplace to eliminate some of the guesswork when it comes to matching sponsors with events, athletes, and entertainers they want to work with.
SponsorHub’s Web portal was first made available this April, letting marketers look up opportunities to be sponsors. Information posted on the site includes testimonials from prior attendees of repeating events. Event runners can list one event per month for free or pay subscriptions for multiple listings and additional services.
Listings on SponsorHub can range from local sports teams to professional events. Stadiums can also use the site to attract sponsors who may want to fund their activities in exchange for putting brand names in front of their fans. SponsorHub, founded in 2011, takes a percentage when deals are made through the portal.
“We’re trying to be the aggregators of sponsorship,” says co-founder and CEO Robert Johnston. He says the conference and trade show business is “really old school,” but SponsorHub wants to make it easier for buyers and sellers of sponsorships to find each other via the Web.
The event listings can include images and videos to give potential sponsors a taste of the audience they might reach. The sponsorship opportunities are organized into categories that include festivals, fashion, entertainment, and automotive. Companies such as American Express, Visa, General Electric, and Silicon Valley Bank use the platform, Johnston says. “We are doing classic marketplace matchmaking with brands that have money to spend,” he says.
Johnston is the founder of New York-based The Executive Council networking club for senior executives, and is also the former executive director of the New York Venture Capital Association. He says he is using his experiences in the events and sponsorship world to grow SponsorHub.
For example, Johnston says many sponsors want to be seen as thought leaders when they back business-to-business events. They also want to access to attendee lists for potential business opportunities. “They are looking for a return on investment around lead generation,” Johnston says. “If they sponsor a conference they want to walk out of there with a bunch of good leads.”
To make it easier for marketers and brands to decide where to put their sponsorship dollars, SponsorHub developed a ranking system that takes into account such details as the demographics of the audience as well as the social influence of the events.
Andrew Reid, co-founder and chief technology officer of SponsorHub, says by collecting social media data and other analytics from various sources, the company created an algorithm to score events, athletes, and entertainers in terms of their reach.
“We’ve taken things like the Klout score and raw social media inputs from Twitter, Facebook, Pintererst, and YouTube,” Reid says. The on-field performances of athletes, aggregated from data sources such as Bloomberg and ESPN, are also factored in. Armed with such information from the SponsorHub platform, he says marketers can get a clearer idea about what they are investing in.
Marketers may also find lower cost ways reach their desired audience through the platform, Reid says. High profile events such as the South by Southwest (SXSW) festivals or the Super Bowl offer sponsors chances to reach massive audiences, but at relatively high cost, while competing in a crowded field of pitches. SponsorHub, says Reid, can help marketers put together packages of smaller, targeted events that may cost less and may collectively have reach comparable to a single, major event. “There are much more efficient ways to purchase many of these sponsorships,” Reid says.
Johnston, an investor in Klout, says SponsorHub has thus far raised $750,000 in a seed round last fall from backers that include Quotidian Ventures, Vision Ventures, SecondMarket’s CEO Barry Silbert, and other angel investors. It is too soon, says Johnston, to determine if SponsorHub will pursue more funding to scale up.
The company is exploring the possibility of listing other types of sponsorship opportunities beyond events, celebrities, and athletes. Johnston says he also wants to build up his team to operate in major geographic markets to better serve brands that are eager to reach more potential customers. “Sponsorship is that moment when they get face-to-face with the audience,” he says.