TMI: The Skinny on Sponsored Media Content in the Marketing Mix


At Outlook Marketing, we are seeing an increased interest in and use of sponsored content across our client base, so we’re taking a deeper dive into the topic for our latest TMI!

Sponsored Media Content: A Definition

For those less familiar with the marketing tactic, this definition will shed some light: sponsored content is “material in an online publication which resembles the publication’s editorial content but is paid for by an advertiser and intended to promote the advertiser’s product.” Unfortunately, publications are still grappling with how to designate or mark what is ‘sponsored content’ and what ‘is not.’

Sponsored Content Trends

Here is a brief snapshot of what some leading marketing publications are saying about sponsored content:

Appearance is Everything – In the article, “Native Ads and Sponsored Content – What’s the Difference,” both sponsored content and native advertising are forms of paid media strategies that fit the form and function of the surrounding editorial content on a webpage. It looks “native” to the page. The main difference is that native advertising is more like a traditional ad and sponsored content is more like a media placement. Native ads contain a headline and description to encourage users to click on the link. This leads to an article on a brand’s website or to other sponsored content. Sponsored content is usually a staff-written piece of brand journalism that lives on a publisher’s website. Each type serves a different purpose and will be most effective depending on what your brand hopes to achieve.

Tell a Story – In the blog, Everything You Should Know About Sponsored Content, reports that in today’s world of digital ads popping up on any media outlet or platform that we roam, sponsored content offers a fresh way for brands to reach their audience in more relatable ways. While it’s partly human nature to be deterred by aggressive, abrupt marketing tactics and ads, most people today still want to know why a product works without having to weed through unsubstantiated jargon. Sponsored content can be that route.

Sponsored content, not to be totally conflated with native advertising, dives a little deeper and specifically encompasses articles, listicles or videos created by a publisher (host) for a certain brand. Designed to hold your attention for longer than a quick social media post, banner ad or pop-up, sponsored content brings actual value to readers by telling a story.

Content-to-Revenue The MediaRadar blog post, 7 Pros and Cons of Sponsored Content, has some interesting stats that make the case for linking sponsored content with leads and (hopefully) added revenue. Interestingly, the post notes that one third of millennials admit to buying something after seeing a sponsored article or post. And, while consumers reject advertisements because they are insincere and have an ulterior motive to sell you something, most don’t immediately dismiss sponsored content. This type of content also receives higher engagement rates and consumers trust it more than traditional ads. The post cites a Time Inc. study that reports 2 in 3 Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X consumers believe sponsored content is more sincere than traditional advertising.

What types of sponsored content programs are you leveraging to tell your story AND build the lead pipeline? We’d love to hear how they’re working. Leave us a comment below or reach out to us via our one of social media channels.

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Suzette Sexton



Author: Suzette Sexton, SVP, Outlook Marketing Services


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