Professional publishers show out at Davos amid spikes in event sponsorship revenue

Between CES in Las Vegas last week and the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, this week, publishers’ events and sales teams have had a busy start to 2024, arguably even more so than last year.

CES provided an important opportunity for face-to-face time with brand marketers and agency execs to try and secure advertising dollars for the back half of the year. But WEF is the place for publishers’ events teams to showcase their ability to convene top brass, and it appears that advertisers are more willing than last year to pay to share that space. 

Bloomberg decided to go much bigger at WEF this year by bringing its Bloomberg House franchise to Davos. Having hosted iterations of the House franchise at SXSW and Cannes Lions in previous years, the expansion to WEF gives the company a space to hold four days’ worth of editorial programming as well as curated networking spaces and party venues, said head of Bloomberg Live Experiences Jessica Webber. This is the first time Bloomberg House will be at Davos.

About 3,000 people are expected to pass through the Bloomberg House during the week, according to a company spokesperson. Webber said that the House gives WEF attendees the opportunity to engage with the Bloomberg brand in multiple ways, whether they’re attending an editorially programmed discussion, having a client meeting with the Bloomberg sales team, taking part in the Women Who Lead networking event on Tuesday night or celebrating the newly announced Bloomberg Green Festival on Wednesday afternoon, among other activations. 

Given the larger physical footprint and the number of events taking place throughout the week to keep the space active, there was more inventory to sell event sponsorships against at Davos compared to previous years, Webber said. The spokesperson said there are nine total event sponsors in 2024 compared to three in 2023, and revenue increased “by triple digit” percent year over year, though they declined to share hard revenue figures.

Time also increased its presence at WEF this year from two events with one sponsor to four events with three sponsors, according to the publication’s newly named chief events officer Dan Macsai. Sponsorship revenue associated with the event doubled year over year, according to a company spokesperson, though they declined to share hard revenue figures.

Consultancy firm Deloitte and insurance holding company SOMPO hosted Time’s Monday night events, which included its fourth annual Time 100 Davos Dinner for 70 guests and its official kick-off reception, which had more than 1,200 RSVPs, said Macsai. While SOMPO sponsored the dinner in years past, Deloitte was a first-time Davos sponsor for Time. 

Brand new to Time’s Davos docket this year was an invite-only, 30-person discussion sponsored by Verizon called the Time 100 Talk roundtable, centered on the topic of global access to technology. And on Thursday, Time is co-hosting a CMO dinner with co-host Code and Theory, though Macsai’s team was not responsible for selling sponsorships against that dinner, he said. 

Outside of pure event sponsorship revenue, Macsai said that WEF also provides Time itself with valuable opportunities for both its editorial and business teams throughout the rest of the year. 

“Davos is the greatest relationship builder that we do,” said Macsai. “Because of meetings at Davos, we get new sponsorship revenue and we find new stories to cover. We meet people who end up on our Time 100 list or on our Best Inventions list. All of those conversations start here.”

Fortune, which has been hosting its annual CEO Dinner at WEF since 2016 (except for 2021 due to the pandemic), is anticipating that 2024 will be its biggest year in terms of sponsorship revenue. Not only will its CEO Dinner have the most CEOs in attendance (80) compared to previous years, but the company is hosting the most sponsored events it’s ever had in Davos (four), which has generated the most sponsorship revenue to date for its WEF-adjacent events (up 67% year over year), according to a company spokesperson, who did not provide exact figures. Deloitte, as well as C3.ai, Toptal, and Workday are sponsoring Fortune’s CEO Dinner in Davos this year.

Axios is bringing back its Axios House to Davos for the second year in a row, but added overflow space to accommodate more guests as well as increased the number of on-stage programs from seven in 2023 to 10 in 2024, according to CRO Jacquelyn Cameron.

As part of its event sponsorship structure, Axios limits the number of sponsors per program to one, to maintain exclusivity and focus on one partner at a time, Cameron said. This year, there are nine sponsors (one is sponsoring two programs), up from six in 2023, and event sponsorship revenue increased by virtue of the increase in number of events, she said, but did not provide a revenue comparison year over year.

Cameron and her team are also using WEF as a selling opportunity, similar to CES, but she said the physical Axios House space offers a special opportunity to show off the company’s events capabilities, a key focus for 2024.

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