As online publishers juggle revenue per mille (RPM) and user experience, sponsored content strikes the right balance.
For advertisers, sponsored content has grown more popular in the past few years as a way to combat low conversion rates on banner ads and engage consumers with richer content experiences.
As the quality, relevance, and reader value of branded content (typically in the form of advertorials, video or podcasts with the publication’s look and feel), has continually improved, so has consumer acceptance and response.
According to a 2017 survey by software provider Polar, 30 percent of US consumers and one in three Millennials report making a purchase based on response to a branded ad unit.
MediaRadar reports that brands that buy native ad units see four to five times more engagement when compared to buying traditional banner units.
But what about the other side of the equation? What value are online publishers getting from this new approach to monetization?
Find relief from the takeover ad.
One reason sponsored content has been a boon for publishers is that it bucks the trend toward in-your-face (and not very effective) ad formats.
As advertisers struggle to cut through ad clutter with more disruptive formats like auto-expanding banners, page takeovers and auto-run video, the user experience has become noisy and distracting. Not only are consumers turned off, but the chaos is damaging to premium publications with high editorial standards and reader expectations.
Sponsored content, on the other hand, is intended to blend unobtrusively into the editorial content on the page. It typically resides at the end of an article, allowing the reader to complete the story without disruption, and most ads appear in a fixed-size placement.
Many sponsored content feeds are also highly curated, targeted specifically to the reader and/or related to the content topic. This greatly increases the likelihood a reader will willingly engage with the ad and even derive value from it.
Drive revenue without overload.
The ability for publishers to increase RPMs with robust sponsored content programs without compromising the user experience has been a lifesaver for many high-profile publications.
According to Contently, BI Intelligence and the Interactive Advertising Bureau predict that native advertising will generate $21 billion in ad spending by 2018. And Adage reports that the premium publications can garner as much as $75,000 per month for a single native ad placement.
With native formats designed to engage seamlessly, sponsored text and video can be adapted to the look and feel of the publisher site. This is another way publishers can maintain brand standards and the positive reader experience that is the key to sustaining and building an audience.
Especially as more innovative formats and reader-oriented content strategies emerge in the sponsored ad realm, publishers will increasingly look to this model as a way to keep audiences returning and revenue high.
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