Income models for Open Access: Sponsorships

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Sponsorships are similar to advertisements, except that they are typically sold based on time, rather than on the number of impressions. A sponsorship program relies on one or more institutional or corporate sponsors to subsidize some or all of a journal’s operating expenses in exchange for recognition on the Web site and, sometimes, in other forms of public communication.

While similar in appearance to online advertising—the sponsorship recognition often takes the form of a banner graphic or display of a logo and brief message—sponsorships differ from advertising in several respects:

  • Greater funding potential: Sponsoring a journal can deliver greater marketing value than advertising, as the sponsor benefits more directly from the reputation, values, and goodwill of the open-access journal. Thus, a journal may be able to realize more revenue via a corporate sponsorship than the market value of a commensurate amount of advertising. Although difficult to quantify, this concept is well understood by experienced corporate sponsors.

  • Less labor intensive: Once sponsorship guidelines have been established, maintaining corporate sponsorships can be less resource intensive than a self-managed advertising program. First, a journal would often only have one or two corporate sponsors; more would dilute the sponsorship’s appeal to potential funders. Second, the length of a sponsorship commitment is typically longer than that for an advertising contract.

  • Existing prospects: A publisher may already have an established group of potential sponsors available for its journal. For a learned society, for example, this might include corporate members, conference sponsors, and the like. Existing affinity relationships should be explored for potential expansion to journal and site sponsorships (within the parameters of the journal’s sponsorship guidelines, discussed below).

With the exception of advertising, corporate sponsorships should combine well with many of the other business model components catalogued here. For example, a corporate sponsor might fund a program that provides grants to authors who lack institutional funding to cover article processing fees. Or a sponsor might underwrite a particular section or feature of a journal. Whatever the sponsorship format, an existing journal with a strong brand and market position might prove appealing to potential sponsors.

2.3.1 Sponsorship Examples

  • CERN Courier (http://cerncourier.com/cws/latest/cern)

  • The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), sponsored by the National Library of Sweden, INASP, the Swedish Library Association, and Lund University, launched a membership program in 2007 to help fund the continuing operation and development of DOAJ. DOAJ currently has 13 individuals, 80 libraries, universities and research centers, 10 library consortia and 2 aggregators as members. (http://www.doaj.org/doaj?func=membership)

  • Journal of Electronic Publishing (http://www.journalofelectronicpublishing.org/)

  • Palaeontologia Electronica, sponsored by several scientific societies, including the Paleontological Society, the Palaeontological Association, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, the Cushman Foundation for Foraminiferal Research, the Sociedad Española de Paleontología, The Micropalaeontological Society, Canadian Association of Palynologists, and Geoscience Australia (http://palaeo-electronica.org/owner.htm)

When commenting on this page, please detail your experience with the model in question. The comment area is moderated and reserved for evidence- or experience-based discussion and requests for support in experimenting with different approaches.