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Sponsored Content Explained

The world of marketing is ever-changing. We have seen a massive transfer of revenue from publisher advertising to search engines and social media platforms. There is a lot of ambiguity on that topic, however, one avenue that brands, advertisers, and publishers have pivoted to focus their efforts on is sponsored content. 

What is it sponsored content?

Sponsored content is where a news publisher, blogger, or freelance writer with their own following can communicate with brands and advertisers to curate content that supports the end goal of the brand and advertiser. The end goal typically is one or a series of articles written to promote their product, service, or event. They can also sponsor articles written by specific writers on a high authority publication. The benefit is that the brand or advertiser can avail of the publishers or writers following to receive the maximum amount of visibility possible.

This way of marketing is not new, we have seen this type of marketing since the early 1900s. This was referred to as an advertorial, where editorial meets advertising. More commonly found in popular newspapers and radio stations throughout the last century from automobile manufacturers, restaurant chains, and event management companies. One benefit of the new sponsored content method is that any type of company can choose to invest in this type of marketing. Example below.

Example of a sponsored article to promote a restaurant

Sponsored content on social media

This type of sponsored content is far more common. If you are a social media user, you may have noticed posts in your news feed that has the word attached to the post. This is formally known as “boosted posts”. This is where an advertiser can choose to spend some of their marketing budget on boosting posts on social media platforms where they can specify who will see their sponsored post. 

The other type of sponsored content on social media is influencer marketing. This is where an advertiser will curate a specific person who carries a large following in their target audience to promote their product, service, or event. In this case, the influencer would receive payment for to communicate with their audience. This has proven to be a worthy investment and will continue to grow in 2021. 

How to start

Getting started with sponsored content is actually relatively simple. When it comes to working with publishers, bloggers and freelance writers, the early stages should include research where your target audience spends their time. A sponsored post in the new york times may suit a company like BMW, but a smaller business such as a local restaurant may be better suited in a local community publication. Having communicated with multiple publications and managing our very own Todayville Calgary publication, it is common for each to have a media or press kit. These documents usually offer insight into audience breakdowns and popular affinities that their readers have created. To receive these documents is as simple as reaching out to a sales representative, media buyer, or media relations associate. It is good to keep in mind that each publication has set its own value for sponsored content, thus high authority publications that receive millions of readers per month will be much more costly than local publications. 

Another step in the process that is worth the time is to curate specific writers. Without knowledge of their skill and ability to write active language that highlights your offering the best light possible, you may find yourself with a mediocre article with a substandard headline. Your overall goal should be to find the right writer at the right publication to maximize your visibility. It is also good to note that certain publications will not allow pre-written content to be published on their website, as they have an internal editorial process. 

Key takeaways

Sponsored content is a great way to promote your offering whilst supporting publishers and writers. If it is done well, the reader will simply be reading a post that could inform them about your offering and encourage them to visit the brand’s website, which could very likely lead to a sale. There are plenty of ways to track click-throughs and traffic coming to your website with the use of ‘campaign URLs’ or ‘UTM codes’. Sponsored content is a fantastic method to increase your brand awareness, especially if your sponsored article has an interesting topic tied to your offering.