Is Paid Content Right for you?

Sometimes referred to as native, paid content or advertorial it seems like a number of our valued media partners have some form of content play outside of their normal ad units.   These opportunities come to us under a number of names, and seem to be quite popular right now.

Wikipedia articulates it as:

Native advertising is a type of advertising, mostly online, that matches the form and function of the platform upon which it appears. In many cases, it manifests as either an article or video, produced by an advertiser with the specific intent to promote a product, while matching the form and style which would otherwise be seen in the work of the platform’s editorial staff. The word “native” refers to this coherence of the content with the other media that appears on the platform.

Another great explanation here.

Here at DSA, we’re seeing this style of opportunity from online media partners the most, but also from newspapers and television stations.  It’s becoming more and more common to see a print proposal with a ½ page ad to be accompanied by a ½ page story, sometimes even with a fee associated with the print publication to write the article.  We work with a number of online partners who can pair up a great article or video with the appropriate audiences through either bloggers, ad networks or news resources.  On the television side, we often see offerings to run content through social media channels with the potential for on-air news tie ins (all paid of course).  From an agency perspective, we’re grateful and excited at the notion of having unique communication channels for leveraging campaign messaging to audiences in a non-traditional way.

Let’s not forget that many of our favorite social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter are also forms of native advertising.  Ad units are served within a user’s newsfeed as content.  Essentially any social placement that is in-line or in-feed for a user and appears as a normal post, tweet, picture, video would be considered ‘Native’ to that platform.

Native advertising isn’t for everyone.  While it’s great for clients who have an interesting story to tell, and really engage the “theatre of the mind” we need to be cognizant that readers might not be as interested in the finer details of certain industries, despite our enthusiasm.  We also need to be considerate of brand trust.  While native placements are certainly gaining momentum and becoming more and more accepted by the end user, we need to make sure that the articles fall within brands or publishers that we are comfortable partnering with.  Do they have political or personal biases?  Are we comfortable with at least 10 other articles that they’ve written (either as organic articles on their blog or as paid content pieces)?    It’s valuable  to read through other examples of native content, the comments, comment responses and future articles to see the style and tone used around branded placements.

Most importantly, we need to define how we measure the success of such placements.  If the primary goal is to sell a certain number of widgets, I would suggest that a different style of placement would be better suited, or a multi-media approach (perhaps search, shopping or something with a direct conversion goal).  Perhaps awareness is the goal.  If so, measurement might be based on reach rather than clicks or conversions.

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