The sponsored series is making a more regular appearance on top sites, including Mashable and TechCrunch, possibly leaving readers wondering how these articles differ from the site’s other content.
Sponsored posts have long been a revenue engine for professional bloggers who didn’t want to litter their sites with ads. With rising doubt on the utility of banner and social media ads, advertisers are looking for new ways to reach their audience.
Meanwhile, this relationship can allow a publisher to pursue more in-depth stories that might not normally fit into the budget.
Mashable explains succinctly the terms of sponsored series: “Sponsored posts deliver information that is written by the advertiser, but approved by the Mashable editorial team. The Mashable editorial team has no direct relationship with the advertiser and does not influence the message.”
At Silicon Prairie News, a regional tech news site with roots in Omaha, Neb., managing editor Danny Schreiber affirms that this is how its largest sponsorship works – his team edits and approves posts written by the advertiser. A smaller sponsorship means Schreiber’s editorial team will write posts on a predetermined topic and the advertiser’s name is added to the bottom of each post.
Schreiber says sponsored posts are beginning to balance out the bulk of revenue that previously came from events. Some event sponsors such as Microsoft BizSpark sponsor both events and post series, the former to reach a more national audience and the latter to reach a niche audience that no other news outlet hits. But, sponsoring a post series is also a good fit for a local law firm, Schreiber says.
When done right, sponsored content will be clearly marked and provide the audience with more value than if it wasn’t there. Finding the right advertiser will make a big difference. How you charge advertisers will vary based on how well your site’s niche fits an advertiser’s needs.
One blogger did come up with an algorithm that may be helpful. If you find that a sponsored series increases your bottom line so you can invest more in your content, or simply expands the type of posts your readers can enjoy on your site, it may be well worth the effort.