Sponsored Content: Going Beyond the Banner Ad

Editorial and Business Working Together

Published: Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Updated: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 09:04

Newspaper websites are ultimately a branding opportunity for an advertiser.  The average local business trying to reach the college audience online will go to Facebook or any other number of other sites in the college demographic that have can deliver more impressions cheaper – if that is their goal: bulk for cheap.

The online newspaper represents a distribution platform that engages the students in the community through comments and feedback on news items in the world with which they live.  The average reader is going three pages deep on a CMN newspaper site and spending up to 3 minutes reading.  That fact distinguishes the online edition from other websites.

A sale of this media must be framed as an opportunity to get your brand next to the most trusted brand on campus.  Content sponsorship gets to the heart of this.

The problem for content sponsorship exists in the organization itself.  From the CMN perspective, often the editorial and business sides of the organization do not see eye to eye.  In fact, we have see situations that rival the Israeli/Palestinian peace talks.

The first step in making efforts in content sponsorship is to have both sides discuss how this revenue opportunity can impact the product.  Establish goals that outline how this process can be easier.  As an example, if a sponsorship is sold, can a portion of the proceeds be applied to purchasing better equipment for the newsroom (like a Flip camera)?

A second discussion topic is what parts of the online product are most popular and how that can be leveraged.  Sports blogs are popular in many CMN sites – ask the editorial folks if this is an ok thing to sell.  CP5 enables newspapers to have section specific mastheads (creating a new version of the masthead with an advertiser's logo and ‘brought to you by' can achieve this). 

Other content can be sponsored as well by placing some brand in a wrapper around the object being sold.  Polls are easy to sell and can be informational for the advertiser (Ex.  Poll brought to you by Joe's Pizza – Question: What time at night do you get the munchies?).

Polls, widgets of content, third party apps and anything that is of interest editorially can be branded.  The only catch with this strategy is that sponsorships should not be banner ads where you click through – then you are requiring your organization to provide some reporting on how that link performs. 

Keep it simple.

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