New York Media is taking a decidedly non-media approach to sponsorship.

The owner of New York Magazine, Vulture.com and other online destinations is changing its business model for Vulture Festival and other proprietary events as it seeks to expand its footprint outside New York City.

While the company previously used events as a platform to offer added-value benefits to advertisers, it now focuses on driving incremental sponsorship revenue.

Demonstrating the strategy in action, New York Media has a signed several new partners for the May 21-22 Vulture Festival, a two-day pop culture confab that features live performances, comedy, podcasts and other programming  The sponsorships are all separate from Vulture.com and other media platforms.

The festival has expanded its audience, added new programming and moved into larger venues since its 2014 debut, said Larry Burstein, New York Media publisher.

“We know it can live on its own. It doesn’t have to be an add-on to a media buy in the way that so many magazine titles operate. We made the decision to take it away from media sales and make it its own business line.”

New York Media also is using the sales strategy to support its national aspirations The company plans to take Vulture Festival to additional markets within the next few years.

“We realized it’s something we can take to other cities and do a series of Vulture events throughout the year.”

Hires Dedicated Sponsorship Rep, Expands Inventory
New York Media kick-started the new strategy with the June 2015 hiring of Daniel Jasper as director of sponsorships, a new position.

In one of his first moves, the sales vet secured partnerships with WNBC-4, Outfront Media and other media outlets to supplement the festival’s media inventory.

“We wanted to make deals with media companies first, and then merchandise that inventory throughout the fall and winter.”

The company secured four new endemic (DirecTV and TNT) and non-endemic sponsors (Casper and Citi) for the 2016 Vulture Festival. It also renewed a partnership with Hulu.

While Citi has purchased media inventory in the past—and sponsored other New York Media events (New York Taste presented by Citi, etc.)—the other companies are entirely new to the company.

Case in point: Casper is sponsoring the Casper Podcast Lounge, a new platform for the 2016 festival.

Jasper contacted the direct-to-consumer online mattress retailer after researching companies that actively sponsor podcasts. “We want our podcasts to feel authentic, so we want those companies to be represented.”

Casper will activate the tie by displaying mattresses—some of which attendees and podcasters will sit on—in the Casper Podcast Lounge. The lounge will serve as the location for recordings of Reply All, How Did This Get Made? and other podcasts.

While Casper will not receive ads in the podcasts, the company will gain mention in podcasts created from other festival programming, said Jasper. That includes a live table read by Amy Poehler, Billy Eichner, Nathan Lane and other stars and guest stars of Hulu’s Difficult People.