In 2018, we introduced site sponsorships as a revenue stream to generate income that would go back into Stack Exchange. Now that we’ve been doing this for a while, and in response to Community questions, we thought that it might be helpful to share more about the process.
Who can sponsor a site?
The company is discerning about who can advertise on Stack Exchange (SE). Companies that want to sponsor a site on SE need to fall into at least one of these three categories:
- Companies that have products or services related to topic tags on SE sites
- Companies that have products or services that general site visitors on SE might be interested in — our stated policy to prospective advertisers is that we only accept endemic advertisers on the site
- Companies that have products or services that can be used in conjunction with the main topic of an SE site
Only one company can sponsor a site at a given time, but a company may sponsor multiple sites at once, which occasionally happens (for instance, AWS is currently sponsoring three different sites through March).
The Community Team has been working with our in-house Customer Success team (who are tasked with supporting our clients through the advertising process) so that we can get a heads-up if a sponsorship discussion is in motion. This ensures that we can provide feedback to Customer Success if there are any red flags or concerns that the Community of an SE site may have. We do this in order to be transparent, so that Customer Success can relay this to the prospective customer. This is an important part of the process for the potential client to make an informed decision about whether sponsorship on the site(s) they are considering is a good fit.
The Community cannot veto a sponsorship, although serious concerns will be relayed back to the client. It’s important to be very clear about one thing, though: sponsorships have no impact on how the Community runs the site(s). For example, if questions related to a sponsor are off-topic, they should still be closed.
What happens after the sponsorship is signed?
Customer Success and the Community Team jointly author a Meta post to inform the Community on the impacted site(s). We also reach out to the moderators to give them a heads-up that the sponsorship is coming and that we’ll be posting about it.
Once we have the sample image of what the sponsorship will look like on the site once it's live, we'll make the Meta post. There can often be a quick turnaround time from a sponsorship being signed to it going live, but we’ve been working with Customer Success to make sure that at minimum we can notify the Community a day before a sponsorship goes live. We’ve been working hard to give more lead time whenever possible.
Sometimes a sponsorship might be delayed from going live due to technical issues. The Community Team has asked Customer Success to notify us when delays happen so that we can give the Community a heads-up.
What are the design requirements for sponsorships?
Sponsorships are not meant to be intrusive. The current standard is to place the sponsor logo in the top-right corner of the site. We have the same rules for sponsorship logos as we do for advertising on the sites. We don’t allow any animated or flashing images — everything needs to be static.