04 June 13:07

7 Great Examples of Sponsored Content

Publishers are creating beautiful and effective pieces of sponsored content that engage readers while delivering on advertiser objectives. Here’s what that looks like.
By Jackie Lisk
Finding your target audience is hard. Capturing their attention can be even harder. Investing in sponsored content helps marketers do both.
Sponsored content is a form of content marketing that is typically created by the publisher that distributes it. It is also called native advertising, because it looks and feels like other, native content on the site. Most publishers have created separate sponsored content divisions devoted to writing, designing, and producing sponsored projects--from articles to videos to infographics to entire microsites.
For publishers, sponsored content is an important revenue stream. In fact, three-quarters of publishers and media buyers have embraced sponsored content to positively affect their bottom lines. Research also shows that 25 percent more of consumers look at sponsored articles than display ad units, and that native ads produce an 18 percent higher lift in purchase intent than banner ads do.
Adding to its allure, sponsored content is a one-stop content marketing shop. Your sponsored content partner should handle both content creation and distribution. For example, Mediaplanet can produce sponsored content and distribute it through a well thought-out distribution strategy that includes content recommendation partners, social and influencer marketing, and print channels. That is good news for marketers, as driving traffic to the content they invest in is one of their biggest challenges. Sure, you can write an exceptional article and stick it on your blog, but if you don’t have a strategy for promoting it, you are not going to get as much mileage out of it as you would like.
But of course, not all sponsored content is created equal. It has to appeal to your target audience, showcase your company’s expertise and/or solutions, and be written well enough to stand beside a publishers’ non-sponsored content. Let’s take a look at some different types of sponsored content, including projects produced by Mediaplanet teams around the world.

1. Sponsored Content Hub: Axel Arigato/N365

N365 Group - nyheter365 created this content hub for Axel Arigato, a sleek Swedish sneaker collection that is expanding its presence in the U.S. market and beyond. The Shoe Showcase site features click-worthy headlines and eye-catching images that keep visitors engaged. All the articles are optimized with stategic links and plenty of fun pictures. In short, the platform allows the luxury sneaker company to tell its story in a way an ad never could.


2. Sponsored Listicle: Royal Mail/Mediaplanet UK

Listicles are a publisher favorite because they are inviting and popular with readers. Here is The New Yorker’s piece on why the brain loves them!
People don’t have much time. Listicles seem less intimidating than traditional journalism. That said, you can’t just number a bunch of fluff. Your listicle should be well-researched and chock-full of useful tips and stats. (Sounds a bit like what you are reading, eh?)
Mediaplanet UK created this sponsored listicle for Royal Mail. It features tips from a Royal Mail executive for women interested in pursuing a career in tech, but it is not an infomercial, meaning the story isn’t about how wonderful the company is. That would compromise readers’ trust, a bad thing for us and our advertisers.


3. Sponsored Video: PayPal/Mediaplanet U.S.

Video is all the digital rage. By 2017, video content will represent 74 percent of all internet traffic. We found that combining video with a full-page ad boosts engagement by an average of 22 percent. Mediaplanet helps clients create videos that position them as experts and solution providers. For example, we created this video for PayPal, which highlights its “Recharge Program” for moms looking to get back into the workforce.


4. Sponsored Series: Aflac/Inc.*

Inc. rolled out a creative program for Aflac. It selected three Aflac small business clients that have exceptional company cultures and highlighted them in a “Great Places to Work Company Spotlight” series. These articles ran as part of Aflac’s Inc. BrandView program. They explain how each small business creates effective cultures and include tips for the readers. There is also an infographic component which breaks down the factors of a happy workforce and links back to the company profiles.
*In the interest of disclosure, the author of this blog, Jacqueline McDermott Lisk, worked on this series for Inc. and Aflac.

5. Sponsored Article: H&M/Mediaplanet U.S.

Let us not underestimate the power of a good ol’ fashioned article.
Mediaplanet U.S. created this story for one of our favorite fashion retailers, H&M. “Recyling Your Fashion for a Better Future” highlights H&M’s global garment-collecting initiative, in which it collects shoppers’ unwanted clothing items and repurposes them. In fact, by 2030, all of the clothing in H&M stores will come from sustainable sources, according to the retailer. This is the perfect type of CSR movement to highlight in a content marketing campaign. It is newsworthy, and it conveys the brand’s commitment to sustainability.


6. Sponsored Infographic: Vision Matters/Mediaplanet UK

Mediaplanet also works with clients to create infographics, which present statistics and tips in a bite-sized, easy-to-read format. Infographics are liked and shared on social media three times more than any other content, but they take time and talent to build. That is where we come in. Mediaplanet can handle every step of the process, from ideation to creation to distribution.
For example, for Vision Matters entitled “Blind Britain.” It highlights the prevalance of common eye conditions and the preventable causes of vision loss.


7. Sponsored Multimedia piece: Nest/The Atlantic

The Atlantic is known for in-depth reporting. Luckily for its clients, it takes the same approach to sponsored content. This beautiful story about how technolgy in the home is changing family dynamics features expert interviews, research, images, graphics, and product recommendations. It shows off Nest’s cutting-edge tech without being overly promotional. The story goes so far as to include other brand names, which makes for a more balanced read.

So one final thought on sponsored content: while all of these examples are engaging and effective, some are cost-prohibitive. Sponsored content can have six-figure price tags! One of Mediaplanet’s unique value propositions is that we offer a range of sponsored content programs, including options that can work for smaller budgets too.
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