Sponsored Meet-Ups

The Old Grey Lady shows she’s still kicking with a pretty good article on the efforts of brands to integrate themselves into the popular web service Meetup.com.

They focus on efforts by the Kimberly-Clark Corporation to create a parent’s meet-up sponsored by Huggies.  As the NYT points out, this is not without its risks:

“There is, however, a danger for advertisers who turn up on a Web site like meetup.com or at the meetings that Meetup helps people arrange. If consumers perceive that Web 2.0 activities are being overly commercialized, they will decry the involvement of the marketers and mark down the value of the efforts to a big fat 0.

Kimberly-Clark executives say they are aware of those risks.

“We started with feedback from Meetup members and organizers as to whether they would want a sponsor and what they would find of value from a sponsor,” said Brad Santeler, director for media and relationship marketing at the Neenah, Wis., office of Kimberly-Clark.

“It’s very transparent,” he added. “We asked them what they wanted, and we’re providing that.” For instance, Kimberly-Clark is paying the monthly fees that organizers of affinity groups usually pay to Meetup.”

It seems clear that the financial success of many “web2.0” companies will depend on how well they are able to bring on commercial money without offending their hard-won users.  I think transparency will be key.

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