A formula for sponsored content

Want to do some native advertising, but unsure of where to start, or what will fit your budget? Follow these steps and the math should work out.

Sponsored articles (also known as native advertising, branded content or guest editorials) can demonstrate a brand’s expertise, lift awareness, drive qualified traffic and conversion, and increase brand visibility.

Native advertising is an opportunity for brands to become part of the natural conversation, but according to the results of Copyblogger’s 2014 State of Native Advertising Report, 73 percent of more than two thousand marketers surveyed indicated that they are either completely unfamiliar with or hardly familiar with the practice.

To devise an effective sponsored-article strategy, you must consider several factors and variables. The following factors all come into play when you’re pursuing a sponsored article on a specific website, blog or publication:

  • Monthly website traffic
  • Publication readership and social media following
  • Page rank and domain authority (often used by publishers to justify pricing when they run more than one media outlet)
  • Optional add-ons, such as social media, email promotion and display advertising
  • User time on page

This is before price or balancing the budget come into the picture. What type of media coverage can you afford? What is the frequency of coverage ideal for your media strategy?

DigitalRelevance performed a price analysis case study of over 550 blogs and publications to develop a pricing model for buying sponsored articles. This six-step guide can help you navigate the media buying process with all its variability in process and cost.

Know your audience and determine what success is

Select a media outlet based on your audience’s favorite media outlets and preferred types of content. Perform a media analysis to determine the topics that interest your audience, the readership for the outlets you want to pitch, and levels of engagement based on metrics such as comments and social media shares.

Determine a budget

Use the budgeting model in the case study to estimate costs of sponsored content coverage. This is a great way to vet out possible media outlets you either can’t afford or don’t consider worth the investment.

Establish contact with publishers to confirm rates and sponsorship details

Before speaking with publishers, consider other “add-ons” or additional elements that you believe necessary to the success of your sponsored article. These other elements may include banner advertising, email promotion, newsletter sponsorships and social media promotion.

Create, revise and launch

Establish a clear understanding with the media outlet of who will be responsible for the creation of the content. From there, create the content to appeal to both the outlet’s target audience and your brand’s audience. Make sure the content is revised and approved by your internal team, as well as the media outlet.

Promote

Use earned, owned and paid promotion tactics to support the sponsored content and drive traffic. Depending on your relationship with the media outlet, this may include promotion from their own website and social media channels. Content promotion is vital to the success of your content. Take advantage of the broad nature of sponsored content; the content is living on the a third party site, creating an opportunity to tap into a new audience.

Measure

Measuring and tracking progress to see which investments are best for both you and your target audience is essential to effectively making use of sponsored article campaigns across media outlets. Consider the following metrics:

  • How many impressions have been made?
  • How long are readers staying on the page?
  • How much engagement did content generate (comments, social shares, etc.)?
  • Is there a call to action, and if so, what is the clickthrough rate?

David Ogilvy said in the mid-1900s, “It has been found that the less an advertisement looks like an advertisement and the more it looks like an editorial, the more readers stop, look and read.” Sponsored articles have opened the door for brands to become part of natural conversations with consumers within the realm of their trusted environments: the publications they go to for news, education, and entertainment on a regular basis. Megan Schuman is a media outreach specialist at Relevance.

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