by Ryan Bozeman
November 15, 2017

Having great content is a necessity to compete in search engines and win the hearts of your audience. Some of the biggest digital brands in the world have been built on the backs of effective content marketing.

However, having the best content in the world does nothing for you if you can’t actually get it in front of your target audience.

If you read through any of the big content marketing blogs, you’ll see an unending number of posts with a million small tips for distributing your content. Most focus on free methods. Many are veiled attempts to kiss the ass of influencers and get them to Retweet your article.

That’s not to say that it’s a bad idea. That kind of thing works and can really broaden the reach of your content. But, not all of us have time or resources to send hundreds of tweets and emails after hitting the “publish” button.

Why Unpaid Content Distribution is an Issue

If you’re going to make the investment in great content, you have to make sure that you are placing an appropriate amount of attention toward the distribution of that content.

But there’s a problem with that. Over time, content marketing continues to grow. Let’s take a look at the Google Trends chart for “content marketing” over the last five years:
 Google Trends chart for “content marketing”

As you can see, there is a steady incline in interest in content marketing during that span. In all likelihood, we haven’t come close to reaching the peak, either.
What does that mean? It means that content marketing is more competitive all around.

The quality of content is higher. The bar is constantly being raised. To stand out in your industry, you truly need to go above and beyond.
It also means that getting people to actually read your content is a lot more difficult. There are a million people out there putting out excellent content. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any opportunity, just that everyone is fighting for a smaller slice of pie than they were five years ago.
The amount of content being produced is growing rapidly, while the number of people engaging with content has somewhat plateaued:
The number of people engaging with content
Source: Content Marketing Institute
Of course, you can make up for this with an excellent content distribution strategy. But, you shouldn’t be locked into only “free” distribution methods. I emphasize free here because distributing content takes up a lot of time that could be spent doing more important business tasks.
In fact, one of the biggest mistakes that companies with big content operations make is overlooking paid traffic.

Why Paid Traffic for Content?

Paid traffic can be extremely valuable to companies with great content. But, it is definitely a more complicated task to measure the ROI from your advertising efforts. For that reason diving into paid traffic can be a bit of a scary prospect.
However, paid traffic allows you to give yourself a leg up in an increasingly competitive environment. With paid traffic, you know that you are getting the necessary eyeballs, you’re just paying for them up front instead of with your time.
Paid advertising also allows you to laser target your content to those that are more likely to have an interest in the topics that you cover. With free distribution methods, you are typically casting a bit of a wider net. You take the opportunities that are available, promotion-wise.
These days, there are quite a few different methods of purchasing paid traffic. That means that there are a lot of opportunities to experiment. The most common way to distribute high-level content is through native advertising.

Native Advertising is Built for Content

Everyone knows what native advertising is, even if they don’t know it by name. In short, native advertising is an ad that is designed to look like an extension of content on the website. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the ad is deceiving. Native ads are labeled and with a close inspection are clearly advertisements.
Native ads are built for content. According to Media Post, users engage with native ads between 20%-60% more than they do with typical banner ads.
One of the biggest reasons for this is that native ads are excellent at attracting mobile users. They ads lend themselves well to the mobile environment and require very little commitment from the user. In return, they get to read something interesting.
With native ads for content, the ads are typically designed to look like additional posts on a website. You’ve probably run into them many times. Here’s an example:
Native advertising ads are labeled “Around the Web,”

As you can see, the ads are labeled “Around the Web,” and are typically at least tangentially related to the page that they appear on. Different Networks offer different levels of targeting.
The great thing about native ads is that you are getting guaranteed distribution. Anyone that has tried to get their content in front of readers knows what a disappointment it can be when a post that you thought would be great doesn’t seem to get any traction. That isn’t the case with native ads.
There are a number of native ad networks that are very popular today. Some cater to specific industries, while others are more general. They also range quite a bit in their minimum deposits. You can expect clicks on these networks to cost in the neighborhood of $0.15-0.30 per click, although that is a rough estimate and rates fluctuate all the time.
Native Ads Networks

Native ads should be at least a small piece of all content marketing campaigns. They are a valuable way to grow your distribution and pair well with an organic distribution campaign.

Research and Content-Market Fit

It doesn’t matter what paid advertising method you choose for promoting your content — it’s going to require some research to find the optimal places and ways to advertise your content.
Advertising content is a different ballgame from typical sales-centric PPC. Measuring returns and attributing conversions to individual pieces of content is more difficult.
It’s very easy to dump a lot of money into native ads and not see much of a return. If your ads aren’t getting in front of the right people, you can expect low click-through rates and low engagement for those that do click.
A few things to keep in mind as you plan your content, and native ad campaign that follows

  • Know your target audience. Who is this content for? What kind of publishers are great places to find your audience? What kind of content are they hungry for?
  • Find laser-targeted publishers for your campaign. If you want to maximize each click, having an understanding of the different publishers in a given platform is important. What type of content do their readers engage with?
  • Know the native ads platform. What type of placements would you like to avoid for your native advertisements? These questions get easier to answer the more familiar you become with a given platform. You’ll find that each native advertising platform has its own strength and weaknesses. Spend some time getting familiar with each platform before upping your budget.
  • Be thoughtful in your ad creation. Tailor the image and content headline to platforms and very specific audiences. An interesting ad with the right imagery can do more with limited reach.

Ultimately, native ads aren’t much different than PPC. Use your data. Craft content and ads for a very specific audience. Track your conversions, and meticulously understand where your ad is being shown.

Get in on Native Ads Now

Like content marketing itself, native advertising has really come into its own in the last five years. Just take a look at the Google trends graph for the term “native advertising.”

In a hurry, native ads have become increasingly competitive and will only continue in that direction. Now is the time to get familiar with native ads and really start honing your skills at expanding the reach of your content. Paid advertising should always be paired with standard social media distribution for each piece.
 

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