Why Sponsored Content is in Vogue

Why Sponsored Content is in Vogue

With every passing day, advertisement is getting a new shape. It is now coming out of the familiar ‘idiot box’ and becoming a part of the ever noisy world of internet. You may call it sponsored content or native ad, whatever you wish. But it is evolving. Content marketing is actually another name for relationship building. Sponsored content is a new way to build such a relation between the readers and the brand.

Long before it gained much attention, Google, the search engine giant, made it clear that it does not prefer advertising contents. But then why, in today’s world, suddenly it is getting such hype?

Here’s a sneak peek.

What is Sponsored Content?

To define what sponsored content is, we often go by the various forms it takes. It can be a banner ad, a social media content or microsites of articles and videos. It is called native because it appears on the specified publication and platforms. It also follows the quality of the publication and platform religiously.

But to define it properly, better if we rely on what it does:

  • It takes the same form of a real content that are meant for publishers.
  • It gives away the information that is useful as well as entertaining and influences its readers to become a potential customer.

Now, you must be thinking if it is a form of advertisement, then why you would waste your time for it. Surely, you don’t love to click on the links of ads and keep on reading their endorsements.

Why study does not prefer sponsored contents?

A recent study conducted by Contently, the company that works with the brands and their sponsored content, has surprisingly revealed:

  • Two-third of the readers feel that they have been deceived when they find out that the content they had been reading is a promotional one.
  • Almost 54% readers do not trust sponsored content.
  • As much as 59% of the readers think that if a news site posts sponsored content, then it is going to affect its credibility.

But one cannot ignore the fact that in the era of brands, sponsored content is the eventuality of brand marketing. And don’t be surprised while I present you another side of the picture. A press release by BIA/Kelsey says that the native ad is growing faster than light in USA. And the revenues that the U.S. Government gets, has increased from $1.4 billion in 2012 to $2.4 billion in 2014, up 77%.

No wonder, the eminent media organizations like New York Times, Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal are taking the plunge into this brave new world of sponsored content. In fact, the digital ventures like BuzzFeed, Forbes and the Atlantic has been the pioneer in posting native ads.

Let’s take a look at what is the publishers’ response to this sponsored content scoop.

BuzzFeed, the innovator of the native advertisement, takes readers directly to the Facebook pages or Twitter handle of the brands. The brands that are marketing their content through BuzzFeed since 2010 are giants like Virgin Mobile, Oscar Meyer, and so on.

Forbes has recently launched a site-licensed model that lets advertisers to post as many content as they want on the Brand Voice platform. It costs them $50,000 – $75,000 a month for a contract of at least three months.

Business Insiders are making the most out of it. They charge $5000 for a content ad and $15,000 for sponsored video or slide show.

Haffington Post charges $40,000 for a sponsored post. They also provide four-day promotion on the site as well as editorial and marketing support for it.

The publishers also claim that the enthusiasm with which their readers respond to the normal and the sponsored contents is almost the same.

From the facts, it is quite evident that the sponsored content is the new darling of the publishers. But that does not go down well with the readers. They become confused and mostly irritated with such contents. But, behind such antagonism, there are some misconceptions as well.

What are these misconceptions?

Sponsored content is the new bee of brand marketing. But it has some clear distinction from its sister models. It is surely not advertorial. Advertorial speaks primarily about the brand. Hence, it is less credible for the readers. But a well written sponsored content is quite different from it. It is more credible, as it connects the brand with the content. A Press Release, on the other hand,announces something important about the brand. But a sponsored content, if done well, speaks about the readers’ interest first. Then it extends its helping hand to guide the reader to the brand.

Now, you must be thinking, how you can make it work. How a sponsored content will hit the right spot without freaking the reader out. Here are some tricks you can use.

Tricks to Make It Work

  • Align your content with the publisher. Your tone should synchronize with that of your publisher. Your content should reflect his characteristics, be it entertaining, analytical, or intellectual. Only then you will be able to produce a content that will make your readers think. As a well-conceived content, no matter whether it is sponsored or not, it needs to tell a credible story. If it is done perfectly, only then you and your brand will be able to make a relationship with your reader. Take your time, think, focus, research, create and then publish. Believe me, it will work.
  • If you are keeping track with the happenings of digital marketing and social media trends, you know that the banners and plain advertisement stories do not touch the nerve. So publishers needs another way to increase their revenue. To fetch the attention of the readers they are concentrating on the sponsored content. But traditional publishers are still a little adverse to the idea since they feel it to be unethical. To fit in with the publisher, a sponsored content needs to have two things,

1. It has to be engaging enough to make the consumer eager to consume it.

2. It has to be transparent so that the reader does not feel deceived after investing his time.

There is no doubt it is a tricky business. But before you tangle yourself with the confusion if it will work or not, ask yourself one simple question: if it was not sponsored, would I have post it anyway? If the answer is positive, then you have found your way. Your reader will find it interesting. But if the answer is no, don’t compromise with the credibility you have earned. Think wise. Successful content marketing is not an easy business. But if done properly, sponsored content can be extremely helpful as well.

Upasona Banerjee

A content writer by profession, Upasona Banerjee writes for Softz Solutions. She takes interest in social media, content marketing and digital marketing. Being a blogging enthusiast, she chooses writing blogs to share her ideas and views on these areas of her interest.

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