Sponsored content has been a new trend popping up on all media outlets and has caused some controversy in the public relations world. This type of content is mainly created by professional writers and the brand. They work closely together to create an article about the brand and features their products.
We have seen articles like these everywhere, even if you did not catch it the first time. A BuzzFeed article talking only about Amazon products? Yah, that’s sponsored. An Instagram post from an influencer about a random face wash? Does it have “#ad #sponsored”, in the caption? Ding-ding — we found sponsored content! Today we will take a deep dive into the world of sponsored content and the waters surrounding the benefits and drawbacks of this new public relations trend.
Customers expectations on ads have changed
In this day and age, commercials are not creating the same traction as they once did. There was a time when you did have to sit through a whole commercial and wait for your show to come back on, but that’s not the case anymore. DVR and streaming services have made it possible for people to watch or read content online without being interrupted by ads. That is why sponsored content subtly delivers in a way that consumers can engage with. It is made to fit the site smoothly, creating no type of hiccups along the way.
Sponsored content can allow for a more in depth storytelling
With a traditional banner ad online, what you can put on it can be extremely limited. When a brand wants to expand on a subject or talk about a new array of products, a sponsored article can help them get the word out. By telling a much more in depth story on the product or brand, you are giving the consumer a chance to learn way more than they ever could after viewing a banner ad for at most, a second?
Sponsored content leads to sales
Most consumers reject advertisements because they see them as insincere and have the ultimate motive to sell you something. High quality posts can remove the “sponsored” light on an article and encourage users to interact with it rather than just close the tab. Plus, about one third of millennials admit to buying something after seeing a sponsored post. Guilty as charged!
Sponsored content can be deceiving and make readers feel taken advantage of
This is the most important point on sponsored content and what causes so much controversy today. Since public relations is all about authenticity and organic relationship building, sponsored content can feel like cheating. This can deceive viewers and be left feeling a bit betrayed by their once trusted site. Even with FTC rules on using terminology like “Paid Advertisement” “Ad” “Sponsored By” consumers can still slip up and mistake it for just content. This can make readers feel taken advantage of and give the post the cold shoulder, or even worse, negative brand awareness.
Creating sponsored content can be a tedious (and expensive) process
Advertisers must set aside a lot of time and save up a lot of cash in order to get their content on a credible site. Not only that, but creating sponsored content is much harder than it seems. It requires multiple steps, department collabs, and rounds of reviews.
Measuring the performance of the ad can be difficult
Since this is not a typical post, SEO benefits will basically be impossible to track. This can leave the brand with much uncertainty and wondering if this was the right decision.
When executed right, sponsored content can be high quality, relevant to the advertisers audience and trustworthy. Making sure the content fits smoothly into the site, you do not want readers to feel like they left the site to read an ad. Disclose that the content the consumer is viewing is an ad to avoid any deceiving. Play by the rules and your content could skyrocket to success!