6 Things you need to Know about Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content

There is a deluge of content on the internet today. This makes it very difficult for your content to get noticed. Approximately, 2.73 million blog posts are published daily. Some strategies like banner advertising are also become less effective over time. Marketers are therefore using different and more innovative approaches to content marketing, for instance influencers and native videos on You Tube.

Sponsored content is on the rise. In 2013, brands spent at least 6.7% of their marketing budget on content that is sponsored. The strategy is to sponsor content on online publications that are already established, thus have large audiences, for instance Forbes’ Brand Voice, and The New York Times. Here is what you need to know about sponsored content:

1. The definition

To define sponsored content, you need to understand native advertising. Native advertising entails paid ads that tend to be cohesive with page content, consistent with platform behavior and assimilated into the design. This makes the viewer feel like they belong. There are 6 facets of native advertising: promoted listings, paid search, custom, in-feed, in-ad with native element and recommendation widgets.

Content that is sponsored falls in the sub-feed category. It is actually content that is advertised on a platform in form of editorial content. It looks like it is part of the content created by the platform. The association with the platform becomes invaluable to every content marketer.

2. The Characteristics

Content that is sponsored can be seen as an evolved version of advertorials. While advertorials reside at the middle to the bottom of the sales funnel, content that is sponsored resides at the top of the sales funnel. It is designed to be helpful or entertaining or both. It never appears salesy or brand-centric. It helps brands to produce ideas and distribute knowledge. Some brands, consumers and publishers are however concerned that this content could damage the reputation and integrity of a publication. However, publishers and marketers work together to ensure only high quality, valuable and entertaining content is published on the sponsored platforms.

3. The Growth Rate

According to a survey by Hexagram and Spada in 2013, 62% of publishers had embraced content that is sponsored. By 2014, 16% more had joined the bandwagon. In 2014, a roundup by Native Advertising showed that 73% of media buyers use native ads. 93% expect to continue to spend the same amount of money on native ads or even more in future. In the U.S, native advertising is expected to increase from $1.3 billion to $9.4 billion by 2018. Publishers also expect native ads to begin to drive more than a quarter of their digital revenue.

4. The Effectiveness

When compared to traditional display ads, native advertising is more effective in content marketing. 25% more consumers looked at content that is sponsored when compared to display ad units. Native advertising increased purchase intent by 18% and brand affinity response by 9%. For publishers to reap from content that is sponsored, they need to maintain the trust and interest of their audience.

5. The Pricing

The pricing we will focus on here entails:
  •  Content that is created by more than 5 contributors, writers or columnists
  •  A site on that uses traditional display ads like banners
Pricing is based on a number of factors:
  • a) User time on page – the amount of time spent by a typical viewer on the web page
  • b) Lead capture – this is for publishers who provide links to gated assets (white papers, articles, eBooks, among others) based on the leads
  • c) The time and effort required from the publisher’s editorial team
  • d) Page rank
  • e) Page-level engagement – based on how far readers scroll down the web page, and the amount of time that they spend on a specific type of content
  • f) Email promotion
  • g) Number of content items, for instance articles- the number you are buying at a time
  • h) Verticals - for large publications covering many verticals or subject areas, there are some that are more expensive when compared to others.
  • i) Word count
  • j) Links – depending on whether links are provided or not, if provided, how many, where and whether they are 'nofollow' links or not
  • k) Impressions – cost per thousand impressions, usually based on historic data
  • l) Monthly site traffic
  • m) Domain authority
  • n) Social media promotion
  • o) Display advertising
  • p) Visibility time - the amount of time that the content will stay on the publisher’s site
  • q) Pay per click - measured by the number of click-throughs to an intended page
It is important to note that top-notch publications package their content differently. That means that pricing also varies.

6. The Networks and Tools

Sponsored content has resulted in the establishment of network and tools that connect marketers and publishers. Leading this categories is Hubspot. It has an informal adhoc network that connects its partner agencies with publishing customers. Tools are used to measure content that is sponsored. Here are more tools and networks:
  • a) Nudge -measures content that is sponsored
  • b) BlogHer - a blog and social influencer community. The main focus is on coverage of women of social media
  • c) Buysellads - a media outlet marketplace. It connects publishers and marketers
  • d) GroupHigh - blogger outreach software. It helps companies to find bloggers, manage and track relationships, and measure results
  • e) Markerly - a platform for brand amplification. It connects brands and bloggers
  • f) The Syndicate - a brand storytelling partner and blog sponsorship network
  • g) Adproval - a media outlet marketplace. It connects publishers and marketers
  • h) Blogsvertise - a blog marketplace. It connects publishers and marketers.
  • i) Cision - a content marketing database
  • j) Izea- a sponsorship marketplace. It connects social media influencers and brands
  • k) Sway Group - connects brands and agencies. Has the largest network of female bloggers
Online content will keep on growing. This means that there is going to be massive growth of content that is sponsored. It is also an opportunity for publishers to make some money.


All in all, there is going to be increased growth in native advertising, and even more specifically sponsored content. This means that it needs to become part of your content marketing strategy as a marketer. This is one of the ways to ensure that your content gets noticed, amidst the deluge of content on the web today.

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