The majority of client-side marketers aren’t paying much to distribute content in their branded content campaigns according to a Digiday survey. Of the 31 client-side marketers surveyed at the Digiday Content Marketing Summit this August, six in 10 say they pay under $10,000 for branded content distribution on an average campaign.

If this seems low, there are a couple reasons that could explain why. The first is that marketers are increasingly turning away from social platforms for branded content marketing. Instead, they’re increasingly focusing on their owned channels, where distribution is free.

The second reason is that publishers are often footing the bill for distribution costs, when their own sites come up short on delivering campaign performance promises. And of course, publishers often wrap up distribution costs in larger packages that include things like content creation, making it difficult for clients to pinpoint exactly how much of their campaign costs are being spent on distribution.

Buying distribution on social platform is expensive. Limited organic reach on Facebook and increasing digital ad prices industry-wide only exacerbate the problem for publishers. More branded content is being done in formats besides text-based articles, like video, which is more costly, not only to produce but buy distribution for.

Branded content is an incredibly important source of revenues for publishers and one that executives are counting on for future revenue growth. But things like paying for distribution clearly eat into potential margins.

Fatherly COO Michael Wertheim noted in an earlier conversation that Facebook was an efficient driver of views for client’s branded content. That efficiency though might face some increased scrutiny following the platform’s latest metics scandal.

The cost of paying for branded content campaign distribution can also vary by what metric publishers agreed to in performance guarantees. Metrics such as views can more easily and more cheaply be gotten via programmatic exchanges than further down the sale funnel metrics like email leads.

Regardless, even if clients aren’t paying for branded content distribution, it doesn’t mean it isn’t costly.

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