Selling Sponsored Content

5 Myths About Selling Sponsored Content

Could you be generating more revenue by selling sponsored content? Here are the biggest mistakes that are holding publishers back.

The sponsored content business model has evolved in the past decade. With rising expectations on the part of brand advertisers, online publishers have to be on top of their game to stay competitive.

When brands agree to run sponsored content on a publisher’s website, they want guarantees that their articles will be promoted across multiple channels and that performance will be tracked through advanced analytics. Paid distribution of sponsored content is becoming more common, as well, and publishers who do not include paid article placement on social media channels in their program offerings are putting themselves at a disadvantage.

When it comes to branded content, as with so many other digital media strategies, a lack of knowledge can destroy a publisher’s success. What is expected of today’s sponsored content programs, how the best programs are managed, and what types of returns brands expect to see are all things that publishers should know.

From the publisher’s perspective, the five most common myths about selling sponsored content are:

  • Myth #1: Sponsored content is an outdated form of advertising.
  • Myth #2: Readers don’t need to know when articles have been sponsored.
  • Myth #3: Brands don’t need to stay involved after they’ve submitted their articles.
  • Myth #4: You don’t need to worry about syndication, as long as your website traffic is robust.
  • Myth #5: Brands don’t care about detailed reporting when campaigns are sold based on impressions.

These myths are just that — myths. If you run an online magazine or niche blog, selling sponsored content can easily become one of your biggest profit centers. Sponsored content programs work well for publishers who rely on display advertising, and they also work for publishers who generate revenue primarily through subscription sales.

The idea that sponsored content programs are dying is a complete myth. In fact, more publishers today are selling sponsored content than any other time in history.

One issue to watch out for is the idea that readers don’t need to know—or don’t care to know—when the content they are reading is sponsored. This is a complete myth. Failing to indicate when articles are sponsored is a major no-no in the online publishing industry. If readers find out that the articles they’re reading were paid for by a brand without being properly disclosed, then that puts the trust between the publication and its audience seriously at risk.

Sponsored content programs do come with challenges, and one of those challenges is staying up-to-date on the latest industry trends. For example, one trend we’re noticing is for publishers to include paid distribution of the brand’s content in their sales packages. Publishers who aren’t offering this automatically are faced with brand partners who are disappointed in the lack of engagement with their paid articles. Unfortunately, it’s not enough for publishers to post brand content exclusively on their own websites. Brand advertisers expect their content to appear across the publisher’s channels, including email newsletters and various social channels.

Most brands are willing—eager, even—to work together with publishers to make sure the right distribution channels are being targeted. Research has shown that users engage more frequently when a publisher’s tone matches with the brand’s values. The technical term for that is synergy. It’s a big mistake to think that synergy doesn’t matter when lining up branded content.

Synergy between brand advertisers and publishers is beneficial in other ways, as well. For example, by working together closely, brands can ensure that their voice is maintained and that the right metrics are in place for tracking the success of published content. Although some brands are hesitant to share the metrics they’re gathering on their own sites, that doesn’t mean that concrete goals aren’t already in place.

Have you run into any trouble selling sponsored content at your publication? Let us help structure your program in a way that’s beneficial for your publication and your brand partners. Get in contact today.