Sponsored content is king

Content literacy is a major challenge. The growth of sponsored content - and consumers' inability to recognise it.

As traditional forms of online advertising have lost their value (due to ad blocking for example) sponsored content has become increasingly valuable and popular.  At the same time, audiences are moving away from traditional news websites and looking to Facebook and other media channels.  New relationships are growing up between publishers, social media companies and advertisers.

The New York Times says that sponsored content is an important element of its strategy. For The Atlantic sponsored content will be responsible for three quarters of its digital advertising revenue in 2016.

Facebook has become a primary distributor for many publications’ sponsored posts.  In their turn, advertisers have access to information about the performance of their content on Facebook.   

Facebook has launched a program called Anthology which helps video publishers to work with brands to create videos that will be promoted on Facebook.   Snapchat has also recently introduced a similar program, bringing together a mix of publishers and ad agencies.

Identifying sponsored content

In the UK, new guidelines state that influencers must disclose if their content is endorsed or sponsored.  Consumers must be given visual cues that enable them to understand that the content they are seeing is not necessarily editorially independent.  It must also be labelled using wording that clearly demonstrate a commercial arrangement.

However, researchers have found that consumers often find it difficult to distinguish between editorial and sponsored content. 500 consumers were shown an online brand-sponsored piece and an actual article.  In four out of the six groups shown a sponsored content, a strong majority said they thought the ad was an article.

Reddit wants a piece of the pie

Reddit has just announced it will enable advertisers to search for potential viral content for use in advertising campaigns.  Sadly, the originators don't get paid. Reddit needs to generate the cash for itself.

Sources: New York Times; Whats New in Publishing.