April 7, 2023

A deep dive into Sponsored Content in Morning Brew.

Sponsorships in newsletters is something discussed between newsletter creators and publishers, along with companies looking to advertise in newsletters.

Companies across various industries are advertising in various newsletters.

Newsletters can be general and they can also be specific.

  • A newsletter that covers daily news all over the world to a newsletter that covers daily news in a specific city.
  • A newsletter about sports to a newsletter about a specific sport.

It provides potential sponsors an opportunity to reach out to a new audience or an audience that is likely to purchase or engage with their product or offering.

We decided to deep dive on Morning Brew, a newsletter that helped bring newsletters into the spotlight. It’s a free daily email newsletter to give you "need-to-know info in a way you didn’t know you needed,"

Morning Brew has several newsletters. From Morning Brew their general, daily newsletter to more specific ones like Marketing Brew.

Sponsored Content can be found throughout the Morning Brew email, and displayed in a variety of ways.

We analyzed the month of March. That’s 31 newsletters, and likely over 70,000 words and 155 minutes of read time.

To provide definitions for some of the sections we’ll be discussing, we included a visual below. This may not be the terminology Morning Brew uses, but we created the below to give us universal terms:

The Newsletter Newsletter

🧮 Stats

  • Sponsored Content is ~50:50. Nearly even between external brands and promoting Morning Brew products and offerings.
  • There were ~51 unique, external sponsors in the month of March.
  • On average, you’ll see ~eight pieces of Sponsored Content (internal or external).
  • ~94% of the time, there was a Primary Sponsor.
  • There was usually a Secondary Sponsor in the middle of the email.
  • This sponsorship spot offers a good amount of real estate. It also looks like an ad. It may be a section readers tend to skim over because it looks like an ad.
  • The Primary and Secondary sponsor sections (at the top and in the middle) were booked ~94% of the time, at the same time.
  • 19% of the time, the Markets section was sponsored. This appears to be a newly available sponsorship spot.
  • The “From the Crew” section featured Sponsored Content ~⅓ of the time.
  • The “Recs” section, which was a To-Do list towards the bottom of the email is a mix of Sponsored and non-Sponsored Content.
  • Typically, the last 1-2 links would be sponsored.
  • “Around the Brew” usually featured ~3 links that would be promoting internal offerings or initiatives.
  • They are also using their own content as a Lead Magnet. Even if you are a current subscriber, you’re asked to put in your email address, etc. in order to unlock the content.  
  • Noticed more co-brand webinars.

Let’s dig into the details.

Observation #1 - ✨ Promoting internal content

We mentioned Sponsored Content is ~50:50 between external brands and promoting internal Morning Brew products and offerings.

When it comes to promoting internal Morning Brew products and offerings, it was mostly Lead Magnet type content or promoting other Newsletters or specific pieces of content.

The Lead Magnet flow:

  • Click in the email
  • Landing page with popup
  • Enter information and read content
The Newsletter Newsletter
Out of Newsletters promoted, Money Scoop was mentioned the most. It was mentioned eight times across 31 emails. This might have to do with seasonality // Tax season.

Observation #2 - 📈 Sponsored Content density increases as you continue reading

The farther down you read, the saturation of sponsored content in sections increases.

  • Starting at the top, you’ll likely encounter a Primary Sponsor and a Secondary Sponsor.
  • “From the Crew” floats around the middle and tends to include a mention of a Morning Brew product or offering.
  • The “Recs” section is around the same middle-ish area as “From the Crew”. It’s a To-Do list, with a text-based format. The last 1-2 links in the list are typically sponsored. It could be from a third party or an internal offering.
  • “Around the Brew” is near the bottom of the newsletter. It often contains multiple mentions of internal Morning Brew offerings. From digital or physical products in the store to courses and webinars.

Observation #3 - 🔁 Repeat sponsors

Looking at the last month of sends, it wasn’t rare to see the same sponsor in multiple areas.


The Newsletter Newsletter

Hoka was a Primary Sponsor on March 3, and was featured as a Secondary Sponsor on March 21.

The copy was slightly adjusted for the second mention on March 21, but the imagery was the same.


The Newsletter Newsletter

Klarity was featured in the Rec’s section on March 17 and 18. Then again on March 21.

All with the same copy and placement.

Intuit Mailchimp

The Newsletter Newsletter

Intuit Mailchimp had a variety of Sponsored Content.

They were a Primary and Secondary sponsor for the newsletter, but they also sponsored The Crazy Ones. A podcast with host Alex Lieberman, cofounder and executive chairman of Morning Brew.

  • Secondary Sponsor on March 2.
  • Sponsored The Crazy Ones on March 6.
  • Secondary Sponsor featured in the Rec’s section on March 9.
  • Featured in the Rec’s section on March 15.
  • Secondary Sponsor on March 17.
  • Primary Sponsor on March 22.
  • Sponsored The Crazy Ones on March 29.

Intuit Mailchimp was one of the top sponsors for the month, in terms of mentions.

Observation #4 - 📧 Sponsors across industries

External sponsors spanned across various industries, but leaned heavily towards Finance and Tech.

The Newsletter Newsletter

Observation #5 - 🪩 Alternating between Sponsored and non-Sponsored Content

There tends to be a dance between Sponsored Content (internal or external) and non-Sponsored Content*.

*Morning Brew Games, Puzzles, etc. we left as “non-Sponsored Content”.
The Newsletter Newsletter

A red box signifies Sponsored Content. Blue signifies non-Sponsored Content.

There tends to be a back and forth between these two types of content.

Observation #6 - 📝 Editing Sponsorship content

Are Morning Brew writers creating the Sponsored Content?

This is an Editorial decision. We discussed this a while back here.

Writer(s) may take the time to edit copy from sponsors and put it in their own voice to make it seem like it’s coming from the writer(s) and less so the advertiser.

It tows the Editorial line, right?

What do you think? Feel free to send us an email and we may feature some comments from readers in the next newsletter! If you're not signed up for our newsletter, sign up below!

Observation #7 - 📎 Sponsorship process

There is a good amount of Sponsored Content in Morning Brew. Both internal and external products and offerings.

How does Morning Brew gather sponsorship requests?

One way is via email footer:

The Newsletter Newsletter

In the footer of Morning Brew emails there is a ADVERTISE hyperlink that takes you to a Google Form. There are a variety of questions, but the last question focuses on Target Audience for the potential Sponsor.

Based on Target Audience, you’ll see a variety of newsletters that likely fit that criteria.

For example, if you select “Consumer” as your Target Audience:

Observation #8 - 🧪 Test and iterate

It’s important to note that what one newsletter does may not yield the same results.

Each newsletter and each audience is unique!

Testing and iterating can help you get closer to understanding more about your audience. What resonates with them, what doesn’t, etc.

🔑 Key takeaways

  • Morning Brew for the month of March regarding Sponsored Content, had a ~50:50 balance between external brands and promoting Morning Brew products and offerings.
  • Sponsored Content can take different formats. This could be an image with some copy and hyperlinked text. It could be mixed in with other non-Sponsored Content in the same section.
  • Repeat sponsors. You might be hesitant to display the same Sponsor multiple times. Depending on engagement, readers may not be opening and engaging with every email, and they might not notice the same sponsor. It’s a learning for both you and the sponsor.
  • Speaking of learnings, sponsors are learning too. As we mentioned earlier, depending on your newsletter you can get specific. You might have surveyed your audience and determined some overlap with potential sponsors.
  • Defining a process for potential sponsors. Is it a hyperlink in the footer of all of your emails? Does it go to a Google Form? If you’re interested in opening up your newsletter for sponsorships, what does the process look like for the sponsor?
  • Testing and iterating. Seeing what one newsletter is doing, doesn’t mean it’s yielding engagement or conversions. It’s important to test, analyze and learn with your own audience.


The Newsletter Newsletter

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