Bloom Ads Blog


Advertising vs. Sponsorship: Which is Right for You?

Advertising and sponsorship have some important differences.

When it comes to advertising, there are many different avenues to explore. However, it is important to understand the differences of each as well as the pros and cons before deciding which is right for you.

In discussions of advertising, the distinction between advertising and sponsorships is not always made clear, yet they are in fact different from one another. Advertising implies that a payment has been made to place an ad with specific messaging in place. A sponsorship, on the other hand, implies a much deeper, often ongoing relationship between two parties. Beyond that, even the term “sponsorship” can have different meanings depending on the context. For example, not everyone knows the difference between sponsorships and endorsements.

Still confused about the difference between advertising and sponsorships, or the difference between endorsements and sponsorships?  Don’t worry. Allow us to further explain.

What is Sponsorship Advertising?

Sponsorship advertising occurs when one party agrees to support the other in exchange for a predetermined amount of exposure. Let’s suppose Brand A offers to sponsor Brand B’s upcoming event. In exchange for support, Brand B would then allow Brand A to run advertisements about their products or services during the event implying a much stronger relationship.

Common Types of Sponsorship Events

Typical sponsorship arrangements guarantee that a specific number of ad placements or mentions will occur during an event. Brands will typically sponsor the following types of events:

  • Sporting Events
  • Cultural Events
  • Fine Arts Events

What is Endorsement Advertising?

The Difference Between Endorsements and Sponsorships

Sponsorships and endorsements are similar in that they both describe relationships between brands and other brands or brands and high profile figures. The brand seeking to advertise its services takes advantage of the reach of the event it’s sponsoring or the celebrity endorsing it. However, there are some important differences between endorsements and sponsorships.

A sponsorship reflects a marketing relationship between two entities or brands. In finding the right sponsorship, the sponsoring brand – that is, the brand paying for the event in exchange for running its ads at the event – needs to consider its target audience. That’s because there’s no point in sponsoring an event that won’t be attended by people who would be interested in your brand.

Similarly, brands looking for endorsements should also carefully consider their target audience. The celebrity or high profile figure who endorses your brand needs to be someone your target audience likes and trusts. The goal of an endorsement is to turn fans of the endorser into fans of your brand.

The main difference, then, is that a sponsorship brings customers to your door by putting your brand front and center at a community event, while endorsements convert customers by connecting with them on a personal level via the popularity of the endorser.

Given the limited number of relevant sponsorships and endorsements, one may start to wonder which opportunity is best for them – traditional or sponsorship advertising. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of traditional advertising as it compares to sponsorships and endorsements.

Advertising Pros

Traditional advertising offers specific advantages that allow a brand to reach as many people as possible whenever they want or need to. Obviously, this allows for more control over the form of advertising, tone of voice and ad cadence. But, more importantly, advertising educates your audience, so they have the information they need to make a buying decision.

Advertising is also a great way to get ahead of your competitors. If you buy ads in places your competitors are not present, you essentially intercept an opportunity to convert listeners into customers.

Advertising Cons

Of course, advertising is not without its cons. The downsides to traditional advertising are that it’s pay-to-play. Neither performance nor ROI is guaranteed, and things can go south very quickly if brand messaging is ill-received. As Business Insider wrote, the worst ads of 2018 were inadvertently offensive, causing an uncomfortable amount of fallout for clients and agencies.

It doesn’t matter the form of advertising – a miss is a miss, and negative impacts can be monetary, brand-tarnishing, or both.

The bottom line: Make sure your brand’s creative is not only strong, authentic, and sincere, but grounded in sensitivity. The last thing you want is to offend an audience with the wrong ad.

Which is Better?

The reality is that it’s easy to avoid the pitfalls of advertising through popular platforms. You just need the proper direction to get there safely. Sponsorship advertising is less risky if the events you choose to work with are carefully aligned with your business objectives or values. For example, a sporting event sponsored by a sport drink like Gatorade makes sense from a brand and messaging perspective, allowing for mutual value to be captured from the relationship. Sponsorships also imply a longer, on-going relationship that will continually help to share your brand’s messaging with a relevant audience.

On the flip side, traditional advertising results can be more immediate, while rate, time, and duration of served ads can more closely be monitored to positively impact performance.

Whether it’s event or corporate sponsorship, celebrity endorsement, or anything in between, the opportunities to build brand awareness through sponsorship may be limited. In that case, it might make sense to wait for the right sponsorship opportunity. In the meantime, launching ad campaigns can help improve a brand’s positioning sooner rather than later.

Got a question about advertising or sponsorships/endorsements? Bloom Ads can help. Give our experts a call today at (818) 703-0218.


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