Between their popular industry publication and event websites, Clarion Gaming has an engaged and highly-targeted audience. On top of that, their online publication, iGB, witnessed exponential growth in recent years. From 2019 to 2020, it earned a 98 percent increase in web traffic. The problem: they sold out of banner ad placements for their sponsors.
With banner spots booked out a year in advance, Haydn Williams, Clarion Gaming’s senior marketing manager recognized the need to add some additional offerings. Ideally, he wanted to offer new products that would benefit their sponsors as well as their own bottom line.
As Williams began the search for a solution to this generally good problem to have, a more challenging and disastrous one was emerging in the background: a global pandemic.
Since Clarion Gaming had seen its own success running programmatic retargeting campaigns with Feathr Ads, they were keen to offer the benefits to their sponsors.
In early 2020, Williams purchased a license for Feathr Monetization and added retargeting packages to their media kit. This tool provided Williams’ team the ability to run programmatic retargeting ads to their audience members on behalf of their sponsors.
For Williams, it hit the mark because, “we wanted something new that our clients could benefit from that didn’t necessarily have a limit on how many we could sell.”
Expanding digital sponsorship offerings
Since launching the new offering at the start of 2020, Clarion Gaming sold 32 sponsored retargeting packages that, in seven months, generated 76,000 pounds ($101,665.20 USD) in revenue — not including the additional revenue from top tier packages in which retargeting was sold as part of a larger package.
After deducting the initial investment (annual license for Feathr Monetization) and expenses (total media spend for all 32 campaigns), they saw a return on investment (ROI) of 1,446 percent — so for every $1 spent on software, they made $14.
With a 14X return in only seven months, Williams is glad to have an offering with a high margin.
“Feathr Monetization helped us create an entirely new revenue stream that was relatively low cost that gave us, and our clients, real results,” he said.
Total revenue ($101,665)
Net profit ($86,783)
Return on investment
As Clarion Gaming expanded its digital product offerings, they split their sales teams into two groups: one team sells more traditional sponsorships and booth spaces while the other focuses on digital offerings.
Products like booth spaces, sponsored coffee breaks, or naming rights to WiFi at their events are straightforward to sell but are generally difficult to measure in terms of ROI for the sponsor. Digital products on the other hand, offer data.
Therefore, the digital team centers their sales pitch for retargeting on the quality of results that can be expected and, most importantly, measured. “Our team sells in a way that embraces data and analytics to justify to the client that this stuff [retargeting] works,” said Williams.
According to Tom Christmann, Feathr’s own trade show and conference sales expert, Williams’ team is taking the right approach by leading with the data. "The idea of value selling certainly isn’t new, but the ability to demonstrate it with real-time reporting makes it extremely clear,” said Christmann. “It’s easy to sell when the results speak for themselves and especially when you can ensure delivery to a highly targeted audience,” he added.
While a data-driven and results-focused pitch has proven a successful selling strategy, their team still faces the challenge of explaining what retargeting is and how it works to their clients. However, when putting their digital media kit together, Williams incorporated material provided by Feathr to help illustrate the concept.
With clients in the gambling industry, their sales team also faces serious concerns about the possibility of running ads on websites considered inappropriate for their industry and the legal implications of serving ads promoting gambling to minors. While these concerns are completely valid, they are easily addressed when clients are assured that every campaign run by Clarion Gaming inherently includes an extensive list of blacklisted websites for their industry that are established at an account-wide level.
Graphics explaining retargeting in iGB's Digital Media Pack 2020
Selling retargeting packages is only half the battle. Once a package is sold, the campaign must then be created and run by the marketing team. For Clarion Gaming, a single person handles the fulfillment of these campaigns.
“We have one team member who looks after the backend of Feathr for clients and for our own digital portfolio. Running client ads allows him to understand the platform more, test things out a bit more, and learn what does and doesn’t work,” Williams noted.
Just as results are key in the initial sales pitch, they are even more important in the actual delivery to clients. “The real-time reporting is something that our clients go wild for. We often have clients actively tracking things and being responsive to what is working and what isn’t working from their live analytics. For the sponsor, the analytics allow them to have real control over the campaign. We encourage them to test and change things up to maximise their spend,” he continued.
For Clarion Gaming, their collaborative approach positions them as a trusted advisor and not just a vendor. “When it comes to digital, you have to be cooperative with the client. You have to show them the analytics and the results...Doing this, and delivering on this, often allows clients to see ROIs that they may not be able to measure at events,” he said.
In the midst of a global pandemic, digital sponsorships are more important than ever. With the widespread cancellation of trade shows and conferences, the events industry is hurting and so are the companies that count on these events for their business.
Despite cancelled in-person events and the limitations of their virtual replacements, event organizers and industry publications still have something very valuable to offer to their partners: access to a highly-qualified audience.
Through retargeting, those audiences can still be reached — outside of events and throughout the year.
By offering retargeting and expanding their digital offerings, Clarion Gaming is not only finding clever ways to make up for lost revenue, they are continuing to serve their industry, and help their partners.
“For us," Williams said, "the interest in our digital products is booming and we are restructuring our business to make sure that when things return to some normality, we are able to continue this meteoric rise in digital.”
Cover of Clarion Gaming's iGB Digital Media Pack 2020