Sponsored content is promotional content created by an advertiser but published by another publisher, brand, or influencer.
From the user’s point of view it’s easy to detect paid content because it is marked as “Paid post,” “Includes paid promotion,” “Presented by,” “Sponsored by,” “Partnered with,” “Promoted,” “Affiliated with,” “Powered by,” etc. Let’s find out why companies actively use sponsored content in their digital marketing strategies.
Why does sponsored content work?
There are three main reasons why sponsored content is an effective tactic. It’s relevant and authoritative, which means a good portion of users who engage with a content publisher or influencer will enjoy sponsored content, too. It only works this way when it’s delivered by two brands that operate in neighboring fields and when their target audiences share some common values.
The mechanism that stands behind sponsored content creation is simple. Two brands agree on partnership and discuss the conditions. Usually, one brand (the advertiser) creates content and pays another brand, social media influencer, or publisher for sharing it with their audience. Sometimes brands cooperate to create content together and cross-promote it to their subscribers.
Sponsored content is a simple yet effective way to deliver your promotional message to new audiences. Let’s find out which pros and cons this content type has.
Pros and Cons of Sponsored Content
Sponsored content has the following advantages:
- it adds credibility and trustworthiness to your brand image when it is shown alongside other things that the viewer is used to enjoy;
- it improves user experience rather than interrupting it like regular advertising posts;
- it can appear in any format or media, which makes sponsored content quite a flexible strategy;
- it is beneficial for both parties since both brands acquire new subscribers from such a collaboration.
Sponsored content has the following cons:
- social media platforms and laws in some countries require that it must be stated that content is sponsored, so the corresponding mark may ruin nativity;
- some users have negative expectations knowing this content is paid for;
- an irrelevant sponsored content campaign may disrupt the user experience, bring some negative feedback and unsubscribes which leads to reputation issues.
Let’s find out the difference between sponsored and branded content types.
Sponsored Content vs. Branded Content
As we already know, sponsored content is a paid advertisement where one brand creates it and another — publishes it. On the contrary, branded content is created and distributed by the same brand or at least by different departments of one large company.
Branded content is usually published on brand-owned properties such as blogs, micro-sites, content hubs, forums, etc. Another key difference is that branded content can only be targeted at a brand's existing audience. It helps to increase the brand’s trustworthiness by creating content with a high level of expertise. While sponsored content is a great way to grow your audience.
Let’s find out what sponsored content can look like.
Sponsored Content Ideas
Any type of content you can think of can be sponsored content because it isn’t restricted to any format or style. The only thing that separates regular content from sponsored is the sponsorship deal that stays behind the scenes.
Sponsored content can be in the following formats:
- listicles (articles with lists of best artists, brands, services, etc. depending on the topic);
- tweets on Twitter;
- pins on Pinterest;
- Instagram posts, stories, and IGTV videos;
- Facebook posts and stories;
- Snapchat stories;
- YouTube videos and shorts;
- podcasts, etc.
As you can see from the list above, sponsored content is mostly used across social media platforms. Each platform allows to deliver this content type in a different form. That’s why social media feeds are a great fit for sponsored content posts.
Let’s get inspired with some great examples of sponsored content.
Examples of Sponsored Content
We’ve collected several examples where companies smartly use sponsored content in their strategy.
Taco Bell & Snapchat
Snapchat is a popular image and video sharing platform which has a “filter” feature where users can alter their faces and surroundings. Taco Bell collaborated with Snapchat to create a sponsored filter that went viral and gathered over 224 million views. Aside from the filter, Taco Bell created a series of promotions on Snapchat stories. Users had a lot of fun with this Taco-face filter as they enjoyed it without being interrupted. Here’s how it looked.
Vanguard & Shopify
Podcasts continue to gain popularity and sponsored podcasts are a great way to increase brand awareness if the company that hosts the program is related to your business field.
In this piece of sponsored content Shopify supported small businesses by raising a discussion about how small companies, subcultures’ representatives, and local communities make money today. People can listen to this podcast on Spotify or Apple Music and it’s promoted by Shopify, but is solely created by Vanguard.
UEFA Champions League & Heineken
Heineken collaborated with UEFA Champions League in a series of sponsored Instagram stories. It allowed the brewery brand to target European football fans and promote Heineken as the go-to beverage for watching UCL matches. Thanks to detailed targeting options, this sponsored content does not interrupt user experience and the story (like any Heineken advertisement) is fun and smart.
Congratulations, now you know what sponsored content is, why it is effective for businesses, and in which forms it can appear.
Last Updated: 07.07.2021