5 Rules of Sponsored Content

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5 rules of sponsored content

In order for sponsored content on your trade publication website to give you and your sponsor maximum return on investment, you have to look at sponsored content differently than you do traditional advertising. Sponsored content, when done properly, isn’t “in your face” like banner ads, and measuring ROI for this content is a process that is continually evolving as more advertisers use it.

BIA / Kelsey, a media analytics firm, estimates that spending on native advertising will grow to $3.9 billion by 2016. At the same time, businesses are demanding better ROI accountability from digital ad campaigns, since online platforms offer close to real-time analysis that makes it easy for advertisers to make changes quickly to maximize ROI. Here are 5 rules for maximizing ROI on sponsored content.

SEE ALSO: 5 Reasons You Should Get Sponsored Content

1. Plan Your Fee Structure Carefully

Advertiser-sponsored content drives higher click-through rates on that advertiser’s ads that are placed on the same page. When an ad is placed next to a piece of sponsored content from the same advertiser, click-through rates increase by more than 150 percent. Publishers have responded by charging higher CPM rates for ads that run next to the advertiser’s sponsored content. Other publishers charge daily advertising fees to sponsors who want their post to remained fixed “above the fold” on the home page.

2. Consider Design Changes and Additions

There’s nothing wrong with tweaking your site design to work better with sponsored content. Your web designer may change the layout slightly, and your writing and editorial teams should ensure the sponsored content they produce is true to the site’s voice. Your sales team may need to enlist in training for selling sponsored content, or you may need to hire someone with that specific experience.

3. Don’t Dilute Your Brand

Sponsored content must be relevant to the environment of your website. There’s an old school piece of advice for aspiring writers that says, “Don’t try to sell a cat article to a dog magazine.” By the same token, you should choose the sponsors you want to go after carefully. You want every piece of sponsored content to be authentic enough to your brand that it would be worth publishing even if it weren’t sponsored.

4. Know Your Demographic Well

Having a laser beam focus on your site’s demographic is invaluable to sponsors. By knowing this, you can generate ideas about the best ways to market to that particular demographic, and you can use this information when looking for content sponsors. You also have to track results. Your analytics should help you learn what worked and what didn’t work so you can adjust your strategy as needed.

5. Use SEO Principles, and Make Content Scannable and Easy to Share

Use SEO principles when writing sponsored content, and make the content easy for visitors to get their arms around by integrating graphics, lists, and subheads. When readers don’t feel exhausted at the end of a piece of content, they’re more likely to hit that “share” or “Tweet” button. Try to keep headlines short enough to fit into Twitter’s 140 characters.

Sponsored content is a growing strategy used by advertisers and publishers alike to drive sales, improve website revenue development, and combat banner blindness. Sponsored content is more labor intensive than traditional ads, because sponsored posts aren’t typically run across a range of websites. However, sponsored content is designed for maximizing sharing on social networks, giving it powerful reach and better audience engagement.

The audience and revenue development plan for your trade publication website should include multiple revenue streams. BuzzFeed may be able to rely solely on sponsored content (at the moment, at least), but this is not reasonable for most sites. In addition to traditional ads and sponsored content, many trade publication websites are turning to partners like RealMatch, the company behind the next generation in job site technology. Recruitment advertising via job board software helps improve visitor retention while also attracting new traffic and can be a terrific part of a trade publication website’s revenue development plan.

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