Are you looking for information on sponsored content? Essentially, while it looks much like regular forms of content, sponsored content is advertising. In the highly competitive world of online advertising and marketing, brand-sponsored articles and videos are a way to get around ad-blockers and spam-filters. However, while this can be an effective way to reach new consumers, Chester County businesses must know the pros and cons.
Benefits of Sponsored Content
Sponsored articles exist at the top of a company’s marketing funnel. Basically, the idea is to pay a publisher or media website to write and post content that readers don’t perceive to be a sales pitch or too brand-centric. Nevertheless, the goal to increase brand awareness, expose the company to new audiences and become the readers’ natural choice when they are ready to buy. However, there can be negative consequences. especially if readers cannot distinguish between sponsored articles and editorial content.
The main benefit of sponsored content is that it does not look or feel like other forms of online advertising. Moreover, since the sponsored content is perceived more like standard website content and articles, more consumers will likely pay attention to it. Potentially, this can translate into increased content engagement, greater social sharing, and ultimately more sales. Additionally, sponsoring articles and content can have a Chester County business reach a new and larger audience through the publisher or media website, as compared to their own business sites and social channels. The win for the publishers is the revenue from sponsorship.
Cons of Sponsored Content
Publications and media websites that do not clearly identify sponsored articles from their regular articles and editorials can damage their integrity, harm your company’s image, and potentially spark the anger of government agencies. In fact, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission recently provided disclosure requirement updates for all forms of online sponsored content, which includes:
A publisher or media website
- Should write a disclosure which is clear and easy to read,
- Should use the phrase “This post is sponsored by”,
- Should place the disclosure at the beginning of the article,
- Should not rely on a homepage or single page disclosure for notice,
- Should not use vague or ambiguous terms to denote sponsorship, such as “In collaboration with” or “Thanks to our friends at”, and
- Should not disclose sponsorship at the end of the article.
Additionally, as the advertiser, your company has responsibilities to these disclosures as well. The FTC states, “Advertisers need to have reasonable programs in place to train and monitor members of their network. The scope of the program depends on the risk that deceptive practices by network participants could cause consumer harm – either physical injury or financial loss.”
As the advertiser, your company is responsible for
- Ensuring that sponsored articles provide “substantiating objective product claims”,
- Informing publisher and media websites of sponsored content disclosure requirements,
- Auditing what the publisher and media websites are posting about you, and
- Following up when you discover any questionable practices.
Alternatives to Sponsored Content
Sponsored content best-practiced will produce articles that are informative or entertaining, rather than pure puffery. Consequently, the best alternatives to sponsored content are press releases and guest articles., which are generally free. Regardless, this does mean the company must produce the press release or guest article and possibly a cost if one uses a distribution service. Still, the expected outcome is similar while not risking your company’s reputation or the potential legal jeopardy of working with a less-than-legitimate publisher or media website.
- A press release (also known as a news release, media release, press statement or video release) is a written or recorded communication directed at the media for the purpose of announcing something apparently newsworthy. While virtually anything intentionally sent to a reporter or media source is considered a press release, marketing professionals often follow a standard article format. This is because many online editors lack the staff to convert informational prose into more readable articles and content.
- A guest article (also known as a guest post or guest blogging) submits an article for inclusion within a third-party publication or website. Moreover, it is a way to present one’s self, company, or website as an authoritative figure or source. A press release announces something about a professional or business, such as a new hire, a product launch, or an award. On the other hand, a guest article will show off knowledge and experience. For example, a real estate agent may write an article on homebuying, a contractor could write about kitchen design trends, and a wealth manager could write articles explaining investing.
As a neutral public forum, MyChesCo does not accept sponsored content, believing it is a violation of the website’s stated core values. Nevertheless, MyChesCo does encourage all Chester County businesses, civic or charitable groups, schools, religious organizations, scouts and other organizations to submit their press release or original article of interest to the people and communities of Chester County. Moreover, MyChesCo gives every Chester County resident the opportunity to play an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information through citizen journalism. Ultimately, MyChesCo’s consistently high standards add credibility to the website.
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