08 March 08:41

5 Reasons Sponsored Content Works Better Than Traditional Ads

Advertisers have good reason to invest more in sponsored content. For starters, their audiences prefer it to traditional ads!
By Jackie Lisk
Sponsored content is a form of native advertising – ads that look and feel like the surrounding editorial on the page. spending will surpass $58 billion annually by 2018. According to a report from Business Insider, native ads will account for 74 percent of total ad revenue in the U.S. by 2021. The report also predicts that sponsored content will be the fastest-growing native ad format over the next five years.
Sponsored content is interesting, inspiring and/or educational content that is produced by professional writers, designers, videographers and so on (it takes a village, people). Brands often work closely with the publishers creating the content and may even be featured in it, but the creative stuff is usually handled by the experts.
Publishers know their audiences better than anyone, which means they will create videos, articles and infographics that are most likely to perform well and generate engagement for the sponsors. Another advantage of sponsored content for brands is that they get to check-off multiple content marketing boxes:
  • Content creation – check.
  • Content distribution – check.
  • And, assuming the publishers are providing reports on the sponsored content’s performance, you can also say, content measurement – check.


Let’s take a closer look at why sponsored content is all the rage:


1. Customer expectations and behaviors have changed

Today’s consumers are used to engaging with content—ads included—when and where they choose. There are whole generations of folks who have never even had to sit through a television commercial. They grew up with DVR, cord-cutting, and digital video. These guys, and, increasingly so, older generations, don’t have tolerance for traditional, interruptive advertising experiences. They don’t like it when a commercial message interrupts what they are reading or watching. They don’t like being held hostage until the unwanted message is finished, or until they manage to click out or change the channel – whatever comes first. In fact, according to HubSpot, 72 percent of consumers say they would have a lower opinion of a brand that subjected them to a pop-up ad.
Often, sponsored content is delivered in such a way that consumers can engage with it if and when they so choose.


2. Customers prefer it

There is a time and place for traditional advertising, and it is way more effective when it is targeted and relevant to the user. But one of the main reasons why brands and publishers are investing more resources in sponsored content is that their audiences prefer it. Seventy percent of people would prefer to learn about a company via content, as opposed to an ad.


3. Sponsored content allows for more in-depth storytelling

There is only so much a brand can say in a banner ad or 15-second video spot. If your brand wants to shed light on a complicated subject, sponsored content beats traditional advertising, hands down. An article, infographic, or video allows you to dive deeper into a subject matter and better showcase your expertise or perspective.


4. Sponsored content is more engaging

People spend an average of 37 seconds on an article. Often, Mediaplanet content generates even higher engagement times – 60 to 90 seconds! What do you get with a banner ad? A millisecond, if you are lucky? Sponsored content is also becoming increasingly interactive and shareable, further improving key performance indicators. Content also improves brand recall, which makes sense – if someone spends 30-plus seconds reading or watching something, they are more likely to remember it than a banner ad they glimpsed in their peripheral.


5. People don’t always trust ads

Trust is the foundation of effective advertising, and creating high-quality sponsored content can earn your audience’s trust. For better or worse, audience trust is harder to come by. According to a recent study, one in three people do not like online ads. This is what fuels the adoption of ad-blocking software.

When done right, sponsored content is:

  • Well-written/produced – of high quality
  • Relevant to the advertiser’s target audience
  • Engaging and shareable
  • Trustworthy
A prime example is The New York Times’s infographic on the state of female prisons, created on behalf of the Netflix show, “Orange is The New Black.” This example doesn’t speak directly about the series but the content is relevant and Netflix runs a banner ad at the end.
Sponsored content can involve an advertiser more directly without sacrificing quality or performance. Mediaplanet partners with clients to create sponsored content for both its print and digital channels. We interview qualified experts for our pieces, which gives brands a chance to highlight their subject matter expertise.
For example, we partnered with Scholastic for a sponsored article on building a culture of reading for kids. The article featured quotes and input from an independent expert as well as the president of Scholastic Reading Clubs. Positioning a brand representative in that kind of setting lends credence to the brand’s message and builds trust among its target audience.
Sponsored content works because it is created by experts who understand the nuisances of the given distribution channel. These people can write, design, and film with an advertiser’s target audience in mind. For readers, it sure beats a pop-up ad interrupting their experience, or even a good ol’ fashioned commerical disturbing their TV viewing.

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