They’ve been a staple for print advertising for years, but as more and more advertising dollars go to the digital space, advertorials are also making the digital jump. Although they can be a great source of publicity for the sponsor and the host, they can also cause problems if no guidelines are in place. Whether you’re discussing the idea of accepted sponsored content for your site/blog, or you’re trying to strike up a sponsor deal with a major blog, keep these guidelines in mind to prevent any surprises.
Be selective with sponsors
It might be tempting to accept as many sponsor posts as you’re pitched, but you need to be selective. Remember, even though you’ll be attributing this content as being written by a third party, it’s still representing your site. If your brand holds a specific point of view, but your sponsor is in direct opposition to it, readers will be quick to react. This could lead to anything from negative comments, to a loss of trust and business (The Atlantic learned this the hard way). Before taking on a sponsor, discuss it with the rest of your team to make sure that it’s a good fit.
Discuss the content beforehand
Before publishing anything, make sure that the topic of the content is discussed at length, and that the sponsor’s version is edited and reviewed by your team before going live. Discuss what content is and isn’t acceptable before any contracts are signed to help prevent any issues later on.
Differentiate sponsored content from normal content
One of the biggest issues readers of a blog could run into is confusing sponsored content for normal content. To prevent this from happening, be sure to clearly identify sponsored content as sponsored content. VentureBeat features sponsored posts, but uses every opportunity to clearly identify it as sponsored material — from the general article list to the article itself. Not only does the term “sponsored post” repeatedly show up, even the formatting of the post in the article list sets it apart from the others. Although it may seem like overkill, clearly labeled content can help prevent confusion among readers.
Be transparent about the story’s sponsor
Once you’ve clearly established that a post is sponsored content, be transparent with your audience about the post’s sponsor. VentureBeat clearly states the post’s sponsor before the article even starts. Again, this is essential to prevent confusion, and even frustration, among regular visitors and readers.
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