The age of sponsored content

Written on 23 September, 2014 by Karen Lim-Sam
Categories: Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Social Media | Tags: online business, search engine optimisation, small business

As web users grow more technologically adept, they are finding it easier to tune out traditional forms of online advertising. Things like banner ads are becoming more invisible to the average user and, in the wake of widespread ‘ad blindness’, brands are starting to turn to new avenues for connecting with their clients. Sponsored content is one of the most exciting avenues – have you explored the opportunities yet?

What is sponsored content?

The idea behind sponsored content is to offer your readers something useful as well as highlighting the benefits of your product. This might mean creating a news-style article or blog that is packed with facts and figures that the average web user might be interested in, as well as a reference to your own products or services. This content is then hosted on a site alongside other articles and sponsored items, increasing the chances of engagement. Sites including Forbes and BuzzFeed host sponsored content, and The Huffington Post has launched the HuffPost Partner Studio, which only features sponsored content from their brand partners.

Creating sponsored content gives you the opportunity to really experiment with ways to connect with your readers. From lists to slideshows, you can be inventive about the way you use your web real estate – your top priority should be capturing the attention of your readers.

The pros and cons of sponsored content

One of the great things about sponsored content is that you’re given a much larger area to play in than the one you’re offered through traditional banner or sidebar ads. Another huge benefit is that sponsored content typically offers you the opportunity to introduce your brand to a whole new audience, and one that’s often much larger than the one reached through normal advertising. This is because, as a general rule, sponsored content is more appealing to readers, and it also acquires more gravitas thanks to its prominent positioning on the page.

It is important to be careful when creating sponsored content, however, as there can be a risk of turning off customers if they feel they are being tricked or fooled in any way. Most sites and blogs will find a way to make it clear that content is sponsored and, by keeping this information open and legible, consumers are more likely to react in a positive way.

Choosing the right hosts

To really make the most of your sponsored content, you need to ensure you pick the perfect host. The larger the readership, the higher the amount of traffic you can hope for. But it’s equally important to choose a site that meshes well with your brand and industry. You need to entice readers to read your article, and this is far easier when it’s placed on a site that offers similar content.

Combat ad blindness and avoid falling foul of ad blockers by investing in sponsored content that engages and enlightens readers – you’re sure to find it’s a great new way to reach potential customers.