By the year 2020, it’s estimated that more than $85 billion will be spent globally on native advertising. One such type of native advertising in called sponsored content or long-form native. This is where brands or publications write custom content to be published on an online magazine or blog. It generally takes the form of a full written article.
There are many notable examples. One of the most famous sponsored posts was written by my friend, Melanie Deziel. It’s entitled, “Orange is the New Black” and it’s sponsored by Netflix. It’s real journalism about women in prison. The article was very successful for Netflix and earned multiples more media than the actual paid media.
Many marketers and advertisers aren’t even aware that there’s a whole ecosystem of marketplaces for sponsored content. These companies act like the Match(dot)com of sponsored content – connecting brands and publishers.
Before we find out about sponsored content marketplaces, let us delve a bit deeper into the real meaning and objectives of sponsored content:
Sponsored Content Explained
Sponsored content is similar to native advertising but it stands apart by its ability to meet the function and form of its host. Sponsored content is definitely not an advertisement but an extensive form of content that has the brand at its core in the form of a video, image or article.
Sponsored content is lengthier as it tells the full story and crafted to be as extremely engaging and encouraging. The idea is to keep the audience hooked to the story for a long time. At the same time, sponsored content is not just fluff. Like native ads, they also provide valuable information to readers through an educative or entertaining medium.
Sponsored content is playing a stellar role in modern digital marketing strategies. Many publishers even have dedicated teams to create sponsored content for their brands.
A Marketing Tool With Fewer Limitations
As there is significantly less restriction on sponsored content as compared to the limitations imposed on native ads, brands get the freedom to unleash their best creative work and give more efforts at achieving better engagement. Brands can even give a clear and loud call for action in such posts. The only thing to take care of is to ensure the mention of such posts as ‘promoted’ or ‘sponsored’.
The Importance of Sponsored Content in Modern Marketing Practices
It is not uncommon to see many top publications having sections dedicated to sponsored content. While using similar elements throughout the publication, these sponsored articles will also have the same font and colors as the main content. However, to mark it out as sponsored, there will be some element that sets it apart such as different background.
Sponsored content is used by a brand to position itself as an expert or a dominating voice in its niche. The idea is to gain the attention and trust of customers.
It is very common for businesses to achieve a boost in sales when a sponsored post or content is published. While this might be viewed as a short term benefit of the strategy, there are other pluses such as building or brand awareness and making one’s presence felt in a crowded marketplace. Consumers might not immediately buy a brand after seeing a sponsored content but there is a bigger chance of them following your posts and engaging with the brand.
Why Sponsored Content Is Indispensable
In the modern marketing landscape which is becoming extremely competitive with every passing day, paid media has become a strategy that marketers can hardly afford to ignore. It has become a powerful and sharp tool for reaching a targeted audience and hit the perceived marketing goals. Sponsored content is a smart marketing tactic that can keep the brand in the limelight and provide that all-important visibility. It is also a proven way of establishing greater brand authority and endurance.
- Cision – This solution is much more than just sponsored content match-making. Cision is a full public relations suite that helps brands manage earned, owned and paid media content distribution. From media outreach to social sentiment, Cision is powerful software for promoting content.
- Cooperatize – This technology brands itself as a CRM that targets “micro-influencers” at scale. A marketer would use this in order to acquire many bloggers to create content for them. They also have a white-glove service layer to help brands formulate a strategy.
- MobSoc Media – This company has built its own massive network of well-traveled websites that fall into the following categories: entertainment, lifestyle, sports, and technology. It also has social media discovery technology that identifies trending content on some of the most popular social sites.
- Newslauncher – Billed as a programmatic sponsored content platform, this technology is self-described as built for publishers by publishers. The company boasts some major fortune 500 clientele
- Platform 360 – Connect brands with premium publishers, creating bespoke ‘True Native’ editorial placements in an environment of high advocacy. Network consists of over 1000 premium publishers.
- Playbuzz – Enables marketers to author, distribute and monetize interactive stories on its network of online publications. It boasts connections to publications in over 40 languages.
- Pressboard – Connected to over 250 premium publishers across North America. The technology has a full workflow management system built in for creating and publishing content.
- PRNews.io – A global sponsored content marketplace with millions of users from over 200 countries. Connected to over 6K publications in 53 different languages. Fixed pricing.
For marketers wishing to expand brand-visibility, awareness, and overall audience, the above solutions help get content in front of new audiences in a new way. While sponsored content has been around for over 100 years, it was with the advent of content marketing that pushed the advertorial up-funnel. The technology represented above help brands scale sponsored content production and/or publication. Without them, marketers would be forced to individually engage each publication they wished to publish on.