Sponsored Content Guide For Digital Publishers

Last updated on Jan 25, 2023

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Sponsored Content Guide For Digital Publishers

When one is bored of eating the same food everyday, they either switch food items or the ingredients to make it interesting again. Advertising has become monotonous over the years and sponsored content is the fresh flavor of the season. 

With growing banner blindness advertisers are looking for more avenues to reach out to their audience. Sponsored content takes over the editorial space on the website reaching the audience directly. This puts the publisher in the driver's seat and not the advertizer. It also opens up sponsored content as a revenue stream for a publisher which supplements their existing advertising revenue. 

So what exactly is sponsored content? And how does a publisher go about offering sponsored content to advertisers? We aim to cover all those points and more in this guide on sponsored content for publishers.

What’s Sponsored Content? 

Sponsored content simply put is content paid for by an advertiser to cover a topic on their brand, product or service. This content can be any form including articles, videos, social media posts and a lot more. There are two types of sponsored content, one is prepared by the advertiser themselves while the other is prepared by the publisher on behalf of the advertiser. Publishers need to deploy their resources for the latter but it is also known to fetch higher revenue for the publisher. Here’s an example to help you understand this better.

Sponsored Content Sample

The Federal State Commission legally requires sponsored content to be labeled appropriately. It is the responsibility of the publisher to ensure that appropriate tags are used for such content. 

How is sponsored content different from native ads and advertorials?

Difference in Native Advertising, Advertorial,Sponsored content

Native advertising, a part of paid advertising, matches the page content they appear on. They also match a reader's search query on the SERP page and are usually presented to readers to make a transaction. 

These ads are produced by the advertiser and publishers only offer an ad slot for presenting it to the user. Readers are used to native ads, these are usually on the header and the sidebar of the website. Since the location and the sizes are fairly consistent across multiple websites, readers have grown to ignore them completely. 

Advertorials on the other hand are more tailored compared to native ads. These are written by the publisher to make the advertiser's product or service appealing to its readers. This content is designed to look like an article and piggybacks on a publisher's brand and reputation to direct this message to its readers directly. Publishers write the content in this case to ensure that the tone and the language matches the content readers are used to from the publication.

Sponsored content is a partnership between the publisher and the advertiser to establish thought leadership. A publisher provides advertisers with a platform and an audience to reach out to, making them crucial in the equation. Publishers can offer sponsored content as an article, a video, a social media update on any one of its social handles and more opening up multiple channels for an advertiser. In return, these channels become sources of additional revenue for the publisher. Since sponsored content is targeted and specifically made for a publisher’s audience, it is yet another reward for the publisher for building an audience 

Also Read: Types of Online Advertising: Guide For Publishers

Should you do Sponsored content?

While sponsored content is a great way to earn additional revenue not all types of publishers can pull it off. Niche publications or large media organizations - that have built their brand and have a massive audience benefit the most when it comes to sponsored content. Medium sized publications with a niche audience and authority in their publishing space may also get sponsored content offers. Advertisers typically look at 3 things when thinking about Sponsored Content placement - 

  • Audience reach of the publication across their website, newsletter, social media and youtube 
  • Brand Safety and 
  • Authority of the editorial team and the publication in the specific category

 Niche publications with a loyal audience in their beat are also highly sought after since they have a loyal following. An example of this would be The Transformation of Australia’s Energy Sector by Business News, A Matter of Specialised Security by Autocar Professional.

The publisher's audience also plays a crucial role in getting sponsored content deals. The ultimate goal for a sponsored post is to reach out to their target audience. A good audience segmentation enables a publisher to pitch deals for a wide variety of audiences.

Advertisers prefer publications that have a popular website, an established YouTube channel and a good social presence benefit from this immensely. As a result, publishers should focus on growing their video channels and social media with the same amount of effort that they put into their articles.

Should a Publisher Consider Sponsored Content?

Publishers approached for sponsored content will be interested in the new revenue stream it creates but it will naturally pop up a few questions for the editor. 

Will sponsored content affect the credibility of the publication?

This thought will spring up, after all you are giving your editorial space to an advertiser. And the answer is... No, it won’t affect your credibility as long as you follow these principles. 

  • Sponsored content should be clearly marked and labeled as sponsored content. By doing this you are clearly mentioning the purpose of the article to your audience. 
  • Ideally have a different writer for sponsored content. It isn’t a good idea to have the editorial team write sponsored content. You can hire experienced writers for this internally or outsource sponsored content to an agency or freelancer.
  • Have an ethics statement on your website clearly mentioning your engagement when it comes to advertorials and sponsored content. It is a good practice to link the page at the end of the sponsored content post. 
  • Be mindful of your audience. Be wary of the type of product advertising you choose to do. After all, your brand and reputation is on the line as well.

How do Publishers Reach Out to Advertisers for Sponsored Content?

Sponsored content is mostly sales led. Agencies and brands directly engage with publications that meet their target audience requirements. But publishers can also pitch sponsored content to advertisers. Advertisers that already do native advertising on your website are a good place to start. 

An enterprise publisher can build a team that specializes in pitching, writing and executing sponsored content. Or, pitching sponsored content can be a function of the ad sales team. Sales teams can pitch native advertising, advertorials, and sponsored content independently or as a package, thereby optimizing revenue for you. 

What are the different ways of doing sponsored content?

Sponsored content is not limited to articles alone and the following formats can be offered by the publisher. Publishers can also leverage their social handles to carry out sponsored content for

Different formats for sponsored content 

  • Articles
  • Youtube Videos
  • Instagram Posts/ Campaign
  • LinkedIn Posts
  • Podcast
  • Webinar
  • Events

Sponsored content is a great avenue for a publisher to generate revenue. However not everyone can start with sponsored content right away. Enterprise publication can start it right away while small and medium publishers will need to build authority in their beat or grow traffic to lure advertisers to your website. 

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Aditya Shenoy
Aditya Shenoy
Aditya Shenoy is a Senior Manager for Content Marketing at iZooto. At iZooto he's helping publishers retain their hard earned audience. He has spent 8 years in the digital publishing space as a consumer technology reviewer. He has worked with Gadgets 360, India's best technology website creating content across different formats. During his stint with NDTV he reviewed nearly 300 gadgets including smartphone, tablets, and wearables. Aditya was anchoring a show called Daily 360 that used to be streamed live on the Hop Live app.

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