Here are five tips on
how to fit sponsored content into your associationís revenue strategies.
By Mike Winkleman
is rising for whatís known as native advertising, a form of content-based
marketing thatís increasingly found on the same webpages where news
organizations such as The New York Times,
the Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg.com deliver news produced by
standard journalistic methods. But unlike banner ads or leaderboards ó which
are separate in placement, design, and approach from the news on these sites ó
native ads are, in the words of a recent article in The Guardian, directly "in the flow of editorial content.Ē Thatís
why theyíre called "native;Ē they appear to be an integral part of their
all measures, online native ads have been tremendously successful. Publishers
have courted them, seeing a chance to grab the revenue that neither print nor
banner ads are generating. At The New
York Times and other places, publishers have even established in-house
agencies to sell and create native ads, executed in online and print formats.
all that love isnít universal. Many traditional journalists and editors have
worried whether the so-called separation of church and state has eroded too
much. Association professionals who have been around long enough can likely
recall the resistance their organizations faced when it came to soliciting any advertising. It was not uncommon for
associations to set up a volunteer review board, which met with potential
advertisers to ensure they were reputable and in harmony with the associationís
goals and mission. While that may not be common practice now, many of the
concerns that fueled it have not entirely abated in the association world.
doubt, native advertising will not fit into every associationís culture,
publishing model, and strategy. However, if you decide to give native advertising
a try, here are five pointers to keep in mind:
1. Make sure the
sponsored content is informative ó or even better, entertaining. Thought leadership is
key; product promotion is not.
2. Make sure itís
relevant to your readers ó and fits within the context of your publication. No
one benefits if itís not interesting, least of all the advertiser.
3. Make sure youíre
transparent about the source. Readers need to know whoís behind the
4. Make sure the
sponsored content maintains your associationís integrity. This will help
maintain the advertiserís integrity at the same time.
5. Make sure the
content is accurate.
Yes, by definition, sponsored content will advance the advertiserís point of
view, but not at the expense of the truth.
will your members feel about native advertising? You wonít know for sure until
you try it, but according to a recent survey conducted by Roper GfK for the
Content Council, about 85 percent of consumers say they prefer to learn about a
company through sponsored content rather than through an ad; 75 percent of
consumers understand that sponsored content has an ulterior sales motive ó but
donít care so long as itís providing them with useful information; and more
than two-thirds of consumers say theyíre grateful for the information provided
through sponsored content and are likely to reward the information provider
with sales and loyalty.
is president and chief creative
officer of Leverage Media LLC. Donít miss his feature article on native
advertising in the March/April 2015 issue of Association Media &
Publishingís Signature magazine, which features in depth
interviews with several association publishers who are experimenting with