Should you be using a paid content service?


The pay-to-play content model has been around for a long time in the publishing world, but companies such as Outbrain and Taboola have taken the paid content model to a new level with sponsored sections on may news organizations websites. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, scroll to the bottom of your favorite news site and looked for the area that says “sponsored.” This is where you will likely find the new paid content model. 

These sponsored sections look very tempting for marketers, especially for companies that are targeting consumers. And while, the pricing model for these services seem reasonable, and the content is usually hosted on legitimate news sites, the whole model has a huge “trust” problem. Here’s why: These companies have no editorial standards and do not do a very good job of qualifying a company or it’s products before taking their money.

A perfect example: You may have a great product and message that is of interest to consumers, but your content will most likely appear next to the latest fad diet claim. These pay-for-play opportunities are just looking to take someone’s money, and many of the supporting images that try to catch the viewer’s attention qualify as “not-safe-for-work.” That kind of exposure shouldn’t be what your brand is looking for.

Legitimate options

Just like with any industry, this type of paid content industry has given everyone a black eye. But don’t be discouraged that all opportunities are scams, there are some great paid content options out there that I have had great success. Brandpoint and StatePoint Media have much higher editorial standards, which leads to better results and more consumer trust. I’ve worked with them for many clients over the years and have been happy with the online placements we’ve received, as well as have received a lot of printed placements in newspapers throughout the country. You’re going to invest more money in legitimate services like these, but the level of reader engagement will also be a lot better.

Several great paid content options exist in the trade media space, too. Currently, there are not any services similar to ones I mentioned above that will reach an industry, so you’ll have to do a little more research. Often the trade magazines themselves will be your best option. Since trade publications rely on its advertisers to keep their subscriptions free, the magazine’s staff will often work with you to develop informative advertorial for their readers that can be placed in the “right” spot to gain attention without compromising your message. 

When it comes to paid content services, do your research and make your decisions base on whether using a service will help you build trust with customers.

As always, let me know if I can help you answer any questions.