There’s a digital marketing trend taking place that involves sponsored posts.
More brands are buying sponsored stories or posts with targeted news outlets, like Men’s Health, hoping to give the allusion that the media is writing about them.
On the surface, the intent is to fool consumers into believing the publication is endorsing your product or service with a favorable story. But does it work?
First off, a sponsored post, also known as a promoted post or promoted story is essentially an advertisement. There is no independent journalist writing the story from an objective perspective. Instead, the company approves the story copy and message.
But how good is a story – sponsored or not – if no one sees it?
Sponsored Posts are not Discoverable
If you dig deeper with sponsored posts, you will see they don’t appear anywhere near the pages where consumers browse. Sponsored posts are published in different news sections that are usually not discoverable. In simple terms, the story is not on the home page, or news sections where consumers are exploring and reading. Sponsored stories are buried with other unread content.
Yes, sponsored posts are discoverable by Google, but think about it: If a consumer is Googling your product or service, they already know about your brand. What good is a sponsored post if it’s buried in a section that consumers don’t see?
Compare this in contrast to earned media where the story does appear on the home page and is very visible to consumers. A news feature written by a journalist is placed in a high-traffic section that consumers will see. It also doesn’t come with a transparency clause that tells consumers you paid for the placement.
Most news publications clearly state that the content is sponsored – like the above sponsored post with Men’s Health demonstrates.
How do Sponsored Posts compare to Earned Media?
But probably the strongest argument against buying sponsored posts boils down to budget – and how well it works for you. All sponsored posts are removed when an advertising budget ends. That doesn’t happen with earned media. Real news stories stay up – long after your PR campaign ends. The dollar cost average decreases over time, making your PR campaign more affordable than any sponsored post.
Digital trends come and go. Content marketing is not new and these sponsored posts will continue to grow in saturation as newsrooms shrink in size. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely your brand will grow with this trend, especially after your advertising budget ends and you have nothing left to show for it.
That’s right – when your content marketing budget is over – say goodbye to those stories and any marketing budget you placed to get them.
Marketing peers named MACIAS PR the 2017 and 2018 Strategic PR Firm of the Year. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, Finance Monthly named MACIAS PR the Financial PR Firm of the Year. The founder – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He’s also a contributor with CNBC and author of the books, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media and the Tao of PR.