Sponsored content offers opportunity for media to grow revenue

By ResponsiveAds - Dynamic

The debate continues on the right balance of distributing content marketing, sponsored content, or branded content mixed amongst curated owned and operated local news media content. The challenge remains how to build and maintain an authentic, trusted relationship for users and subscribers.

According to Insider Intelligence, more than 84% of U.S. companies are using content marketing. They are developing various methods of distributing the content that lives within social media and sponsored listings that many news publishers offer in conjunction with their existing content. The types of content delivered include blog posts, videos, social posts, games, and apps.

Many local news publishers have become the key plug-and-play delivery channels for content marketing networks. Sponsored listings that can live as native ads on the page are separated with some kind of “advertisement” or “sponsored content” indicator, and they integrate into the natural design of publishers’ sites. In addition to offering value with a diversity of content to their audience, this is also a small revenue source for local publishers.

Furthermore, a great opportunity exists for local news publishers to leverage their sales channels and content creation expertise with a compelling new way to distribute branded content.

The difference between content marketing and branded content is that content marketing is made for an audience, whereas branded content puts the business itself in the spotlight. Branded content uses immersive storytelling to generate an emotional reaction from the audience. Having a toolkit to deliver branded content to your audience can bring value to readers and serve as the conduit for advertising partners.

An example of a content portal banner.
An example of a content portal banner.


When there is an opportunity for big beautiful ad footprints with edge-to-edge formats, it provides an opportunity for new branded content and sponsored content formats.

For example, NBC News has been utilising sponsored content ads with great results for distribution and brand partners.

These concepts basically incorporate articles into the ad itself. In the case of the content portal lightbox, articles are added into a carousel or feed, and the user can open the unit as a lightbox while staying on the same page.

Read rates can be measured with the article’s scroll and the use of a carousel to switch between articles. These units are as simple to set up as providing the content of the article and receiving a brand logo and image.

An example of a content portal lightbox.

An example of a content portal lightbox.


There are several advantages of running such an ad unit for local news publishers.

  1. They drive new revenue sources leveraging existing sales teams and content creation processes.
  2. According to ResponsiveAds 2022 benchmarks, they offer units to brands that yield 50-150 times more engagement than standard IAB banners for consumers.
  3. Article read rates can be as high as double the current read rates.
  4. The same existing ad slots can be used for a compelling, fresh type of ad, and no code is required on the page. This makes for an easy way to customise the placement of content using ad-serving targeting techniques.
  5. They drive the most relevant content in prime positions, allowing them to stand out from the pack.
  6. They align the strategy with a first-party data and personalisation strategy.
  7. They build new trusted relationships with brands.
  8. They offer an opportunity for new authentic content for end users.
  9. No new hiring or organisation is required. This is a plug-and-play framework.
  10. It is as simple as posting an article. It takes less than 30 minutes to set up the process with the right creative ad tech partnership.

For local news publishers, there is a constant flow of content that is trusted. This could potentially be sponsored and distributed in a unique way.

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