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The Big Bad World of Sponsored Content
By: Jennifer Stack
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Bridging the gap between brand content and the art of editorial is the radical new concept of digitally sponsored creative. This has appeared in a variety of forms across the web from Twitter to YouTube to Tumblr and so on. Sponsored content is the latest digital advertising opportunity. Specifically, publishers like BuzzFeed offer packages to brands with tiered levels of content creation and distribution. A brand can bring a product or a launch event to the publisher, which for a fee will write a target-relevant piece of content that is in some way related to the featured brand via sponsorship. What is truly interesting is that this new advertising product offers digital publishers paid PR for the digital space. Content creators optimize the content for SEO purposes to ensure that it is clicked, consumed, and shared by the desired target audiences.
Additionally, the created brand-sponsored piece is distributed to vast networks of blogs, which already have established solid audiences. While brands can provide restrictions on the types of blogs and forums they do and do not want to be on, the ultimate discretion and authority is up to the publishers, as they will not reveal their distribution networks list or secret sauce formula to achieving those KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
Considering the success of Sponsored Tweets and the transparency of brand-created content or product placements in television and film, branded written content should continue to flourish. After all, these are real writers at the helm exploring and elaborating on truly interesting ways in which the story leads back to the brand. For those marketers who are at a loss when it comes to developing conversation pillars or buzzworthy relevant content surrounding their brand or product, BuzzFeed is an excellent solution. While it is not necessarily cheap, it is absolutely the way forward in the digital content strategy space for those marketers who have less-then-topical products or brand pillars. For those who have clearly defined brand-persona characteristics, sponsored content is an excellent tactic to capitalize on the defined brand identity. A sponsored content strategy can be used by brands of all scales in the digital space.

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About the Author
Jennifer Stack is a Social Media Strategist at a digital advertising agency. She was a 2011 Notable.ca YP Social Media Finalist. International Marketing Communication, MA. International Marketing Strategy, MSc. LinkedIn + Twitter.
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