Publishers have fallen in love with “paid distribution” as a new revenue stream. Users are far more likely to click on interesting content from other publishers and brands than regular banners.
The question is how to label this content marketing. Top publishers use an array of euphemisms to disclose that these links appear because the publisher is getting paid for each click. You’ll find “From Around the Web” (CNN), “More Stories” (USA Today) and the more straightforward “Content from Sponsors” (The Wall Street Journal).
The crux of the issue is that this form of advertising isn’t like advertising. It often links to related (or interesting) content from other publishers. Sometimes that content is from advertisers, like American Express, that are also publishing content.
Though it does seem like publishers are walking a fine line. Some publishers have “sponsored links” on their site — often in the form of contextual ads from Google — on top of “From Around the Web” links.
Some rely on tiny question-mark icons at the bottom of these units that then tell readers the links are paid. The reason is simple: Putting a “sponsored” label on the headlines depresses click rates and, therefore, revenue, substantially.
The field of content marketing is not alone in relying on euphemisms for ad products that are new. Twitter, for instance, calls its ads “promoted” since they’re typically content brands have produced.
The paid distribution services, which include Outbrain, Taboola and Disqus, argue that it’s up to the publishers to communicate with readers. Each will choose differently, as evidenced by the varying descriptions out there. Outbrain units typically carry “From Around the Web” with disclosure appearing only when a user clicks a small question-mark icon.
Taboola CEO Adam Singolda argues that this is fine, since any content recommendation link on a site is equivalent to an ad. His logic: People will see ads after clicking those links.”The only difference is that while both clicks (onsite and offsite) generate a CPC, the ones that take users out of the site should indicate to the user that they are about to go to a new site,” he said. (Digiday uses Outbrain for internal links to other Digiday stories; it does not run paid links to other sites.)
It’s an interesting debating point. Paid search might provide some guidance to how this will shake out as paid distribution grows more mature. Microsoft, for instance, used to label its search ads “featured links.” Google called its paid links “sponsored” and has now moved on to simply label them “ads.”
Below are some examples of the different types of labels publishers use for these paid links.
CNN — From around the Web
Fast Company — You might also like
Rolling Stone — From around the Web
Time — From around the Web
Fox News — Also on the Web
USA Today — More stories
TMZ — You may like
Time — You might also like
Bloomberg — Videos you may like
Talking Points Memo — From around the Web
Image via Shutterstock
How newsroom unions intervene when members get laid off
Amid the recent wave of media layoffs, here are some of the ways newsroom unions are intervening.
Despite Q1’s slow start, publishers are bullish about events revenue for 2023
Publishers like BDG and Apartment Therapy are banking on events revenue to give them a leg up in 2023.
Media Briefing: The case for and against monthly and annual subscriptions in the battle for retention
There are no one-size-fits-all solutions for improving retention in a subscriptions business. While annual subscribers might stick around longer for some, other publishers will have better luck with monthly plans.
SponsoredWhy Best Buy Ads sees retail media as integral to its customer-centric purpose
Sponsored by Best Buy Ads Retail media networks have become critical for marketers, with retailers investing in ways that enable advertisers to engage consumers across online and offline channels. Given the wealth of retailers’ first-party customer data and measurement capabilities, retail media networks have become a natural fit for augmenting performance marketing programs. Alongside the […]
Digiday+ Research: The economy will hit the media and marketing industries this year, but differently
The economy will plague both the media and marketing industries in 2023, but the hit will be uneven between publishers and agencies.
Podcast ad buyers have yet to see a slowdown
Ad buyers have yet to see clients cut their podcast budgets – though the time of podcasts as the shiny new medium may be coming to an end.