What is Sponsored Content? Sponsored content, sometimes referred to as native ads, is a form of advertising that matches the form, feel and function of the platform on which it appears. You’ve seen it pop up on your Instagram feed and Facebook wall, but this expanding form of paid media is much more than that. In fact, news organizations like The New York Times, BuzzFeed, and The Wall Street Journal have been at the forefront of using sponsored content.
Check out these two great examples of editorials sponsored by Netflix:
Why You Should Use It: As journalism continues to adapt to online platforms, so do advertisers. However, creating online ads can be difficult because pop-ups and display ads can be distracting, annoying, and blocked with ad-blockers. Sponsored content provides a way around this because it informs the audience without bombarding them. In addition, native ads are more engaging for the reader because they do not feel like advertisements and they avoid self-promotion. Not convinced? Here are a few more reasons:
-25 percent more consumers look at sponsored articles than display ads.
-Native advertising’s click-through rate (CTR) is 15 percent, and traditional display ads are less than 1 percent.
-Native advertising made up 10 percent of The New York Times’ digital advertising revenue last year.
Ways To Do It: To be successful when using sponsored content, you must produce quality content that informs and engages. A few ways to do this is in the form of:
-A quiz: Quizzes are fun, quick, and engage the audience with no blatant brand promotion, like this BuzzFeed quiz sponsored by BMW.
-An infographic: Infographics are visually appealing and easy to digest, like this one sponsored by UPS.
-A listicle: Listicles are entertaining and rack up shares on social media, like this listicle sponsored by Burger King.
-Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter…you name it.
The Controversy: Sponsored content should be clearly labeled as “sponsored” to distinguish it from typical content. When a post is not properly labeled, some say they feel deceived because they cannot differentiate it between an editorial piece and an advertisement. If the post is too clearly labeled, it has the potential to be ignored by consumers because it too closely resembles a display ad. In addition, when using native advertising, advertisers feel pressure to compete with both other advertisements and editorials.
How To Label: Because the biggest problem with sponsored content is the issue of improper or deceiving labeling, it is important to always label correctly. If a reader feels they were tricked into reading an advertisement when they originally thought it was an editorial, they may feel mistrust for the brand or news platform. Here is a few examples of labels that should be placed visibly at the top of an advertisement:
-Sponsored; Sponsored Content; Sponsored By
-Paid For By; Paid Post