Sponsored Content Advertising—What Is It and Should you Add it to Your Digital Marketing Plan?

Sponsored content is a fairly new type of marketing, and it can be tricky to understand.

You might be wondering—Will my business benefit from using it? Is it cost-effective?

Of course you want to make sure that anything you invest in marketing is going to see a great return.

In this article, we’ll go over some basic principles so you can get up to speed on sponsored content in no time.

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What is Sponsored Content?

Sponsored content is when a company pays to have a piece of content about their product featured on a major publication.

This is a fairly new concept to some people.

Here’s how it got started:

Have you ever seen banner ads on websites or social media pages? Have you ever been trying to read an article and an ad pops up? Most of us quickly hit “X” so we can get back to reading the article. 

In recent years, there has been less and less traffic that originates from these types of ads.

Studies show that many viewers have learned to completely tune them out—a subconscious effect called “banner blindness.”

Because there are so many ads, and viewers have been inundated with them for so long, we don’t pay attention anymore. 

So companies have gotten more creative to get us to read their ads. 

Instead of using banner or pop-up advertisements that attempt to stand out, they try to camouflage the advertisement into the website you are looking at so that you might stumble across it thinking that it’s information you are looking for.

The ads are made to blend seamlessly into the platform. 

You might think you’re browsing news articles in the New York Times, but some of the headlines might actually be sponsored content.

This has proved to be an effective way of marketing. If you can make interesting, engaging content about your product, people are going to want to learn more. 

Of course, with everything, it’s not fail-safe. 

There are pros and cons to sponsored content, which we will talk about later.

Who Benefits From Sponsored Content and How?

The goal is for everyone to benefit from sponsored content.

  1. The Brand – the company paying for the sponsored article
  2. The Platform – an online publication with a large audience that is hosting the content
  3. The Viewer – the person who is reading the content

When done correctly, sponsored content can help consumers find the product they need, while directly benefiting the company and the publication.

The Brand

Companies that use sponsored content are hoping to benefit by gaining customers. 

The strategy can be very effective, however, it can also be expensive. 

Although you might gain traffic to your website, you don’t want to over-pay and negate the gains you will receive from a piece of sponsored content.

In order to benefit from this marketing strategy, companies need to do some research and cost-benefit analysis.

The direct return on investment (ROI) needs to be calculated to know if the price of a piece of content is worthwhile.

The Platform

The platform that publishes the article benefits because they get paid by the company, and they also get more viewers.

The Viewer

Lastly, the viewer also benefits from sponsored content if it features a product that they were hoping to learn more about. 

The content can be interesting, witty, and useful, which also brings value to the reader.

Let’s take Cindy for example. 

Cindy was reading the New York Times one day and she came across an article about a new battery-operated car. The article went into great detail about the fuel-efficiency of the car and how the engine worked. 

Cindy also happened to be in the market for a new car, so the article helped her to get an idea of what it would be like to own a battery-operated car. Not only did she find the article useful, but it also helped the company get the word out about their new technology.

Sponsored Content Examples

There are tons of sponsored content examples, but sometimes they can be hard to spot while you’re browsing on your favorite platform. 

These phrases are clues to let you know if a piece of content is sponsored:

  • “Paid Post”
  • “Presented By”
  • “This Post is Sponsored By”
  • “Partnered With”
  • “Affiliated With”
  • “Powered By”

If you’re still having trouble picturing what sponsored content looks like, here are a few examples.

Sponsored Content Example #1

This ad is laid out just like an article. It has interesting photos and reads like an editorial. 

See where it says “promotion” on the top right-hand side? 

There’s your sign.

Sponsored Content Example #2

This headline looks like an interesting article that you might be tempted to click on. 

In the small print, you can see that this is a paid advertisement by Hot Wheels.

Can Sponsored Content Boost SEO Results?

Absolutely. Sponsored content does work to boost SEO. 

The more important question is, at what cost?

Is sponsored content the most cost-effective way to boost your SEO?

If you’re not sure if sponsored content is the right way forward—and you don’t have time to become an expert on SEO—Portland SEO Growth can help

With 25+ SEO experts, we can evaluate your website’s SEO and help you find the best direction forward, without unnecessarily spending thousands on sponsored content.

How Can Sponsored Content Boost SEO?

When you pay for a piece of content on a platform with a large audience, you will gain a backlink from the website with high authority. 

This means that the search engine’s algorithm will then give your website more authority and you will rank higher. 

Ranking higher on Google means that potential customers will be able to find your website when they search for related keywords.

The hope is that: more traffic = more conversions.

Advertorial vs. Sponsored Content

Advertorials are a type of sponsored content that are laid out to look like they are editorials.

Some of these ads look so much like news articles that they have been the source of some controversy. 

People reading a news website may not want to read an article about the latest products on the market.

However, all advertorials should have a disclaimer somewhere on the page that it is a sponsored article.

Advertorials can also be useful because they have a lot of information about specific products and go much more in-depth than a typical short advertisement.

Is Sponsored Content Right for You?

To determine if sponsored content will benefit your business, you’ll need to do some research. 

Here are a few things to consider:

Establish Your End Goal

First, decide what your business needs. 

Are you simply trying to boost your SEO? Or are you looking for something very specific, like ranking on the first page of Google for a specific keyword?

Are you just trying to get more organic traffic that converts to sales?

Try to narrow down your goal to something specific so that you can decide if a piece of sponsored content will help you get there.

Thoroughly Evaluate the Domain Authority of Any Website You May “Partner” With

If you’re going to pay for a piece of sponsored content, make sure you choose a publication that has a large audience. 

This may seem like a no-brainer but you’ll want to verify that the platform actually has the amount of traffic you expect.

Do You and Your Potential Partnering Platform Share the Same Audience?

If you’re selling dog treats, you don’t want to pay for an advertisement on a fashion blog.

Make sure your target customer is the same audience as the platform you are partnering with. 

Even if the ad reaches many people, if they aren’t your potential customers, your efforts and money will be wasted.

Is There an Alternative Option With an Opportunity for Greater ROI?

While sponsored content is a great marketing tool, you might find that there are other less-expensive strategies to help you reach your SEO goals. 

So, you have to find out, is the juice worth the squeeze?

If you aren’t an SEO expert—and you don’t know which strategies are going to benefit you the most—use Portland SEO Growth to do the hard work for you. 

We guarantee more organic traffic to your website and higher conversion rates. 

If you’re thinking about sponsored content, we can help you with that too. 

Additional Outlet: Sponsored Content on Social Media

Sponsored content on social media can be a great tool for companies to get their products in front of potential customers. 

Social media influencers—with thousands of followers—can create creative content with your product as the focus. 

However, since individual influencers are gaining in popularity for marketing, many charge a hefty fee for promoting your business.

What is Sponsored Content on Facebook?

Sponsored content on Facebook means partnering with individuals who make creative, engaging videos with reviews or tutorials. 

For example, if a carpenter has a Facebook page with videos and pictures of his work, he might be sponsored by a large tool manufacturer like Ryobi. 

Ryobi pays the carpenter for each tutorial in which he uses one of their products to make something.

Sponsored Content on Instagram

Many major social media influencers use Instagram to post beautiful photographs of anything you can think of, including:

  • Artwork
  • Fashion
  • Crafts
  • Travel
  • Food

If you’re a t-shirt company, for instance, you might sponsor a model with a million followers to wear your shirt in a photo on her Instagram account.

What is LinkedIn Sponsored Content?

Ads on LinkedIn show up on people’s newsfeed and they blend seamlessly into the content. 

LinkedIn analyzes people’s individual profiles to predict which ads will appeal to them.

To Sponsor or Not to Sponsor? Let Portland SEO Growth Help You Decide

It can be tough to know if your business will benefit from sponsored content. 

There’s a lot that goes into your research. 

To be sure if a piece of sponsored content is valuable you need to:

  • Set a specific goal that results in more business
  • Decide what type of platform would work best for you to partner with
  • Find a platform that has a large audience
  • Make sure the audience of the platform are your potential customers
  • Exhaust other options that may be cheaper or more effective 

You’re already busy managing your company, so maybe it’s time to put your SEO strategy on autopilot. 

At Portland SEO Growth, we:

  • Analyze your current SEO and rankings
  • Create and manage strategies
  • We write amazing content
  • Most importantly – we get more valuable traffic to your website

You can focus on your day-to-day operations, and let us take care of finding your customers.

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Taylor Pezzini

Writer, Editor, and Military Spouse