Are Paid Content Distribution Platforms Cost Effective?
Generate enough traffic and that content will drive a steady uptick in conversions and a return on your marketing budgetary spend. Finding that audience is often the hardest challenge.
Social and Guest Blogger Networks
Social media is becoming an increasingly pay-to-play environment, especially on Facebook. Organic traffic to Pages is below 2%.
With over 100,000 factors influencing who sees your content on Facebook, if a post isn’t popular enough it may only reach a few hundred unless you put some ad money behind it.
An alternative is to target bloggers and media outlets directly. Ask to be published as a guest blogger. Get enough outlets in your network, and you could have hundreds of thousands of new readers and fans of your content, which ultimately leads to conversion upticks. This approach does take time, but it works. Buffer, a popular social media sharing tool, leveraged a guest network to generate millions in revenues.
Paid Content Platforms: A Distribution Alternative?
Not unlike creating a sponsored post on Facebook, a range of content distribution platforms have emerged over the last few years, aiming to automate the challenge of finding an audience for your content.
They broadly work in the same way: you upload the content (which is published locally, on your blog), set the budget and timescale, then launch the campaign. Anyone familiar with online publishing and managing ad campaigns should be fairly well accustomed to the technology and processes.
The following are some of the most popular distribution platforms on the market.
Cost-per-Click (CPC) $0.25–$0.35
Outbrain boasts a global reach of over 560 million (as of September 2014, comScore), with 80% of the world’s leading brands already working with them. They have a distribution network (which is ultimately what you are paying for) which includes real estate on some of the most high-profile media outlets, including CNN and ESPN.
Rather than just an iteration on the Outbrain model, Nativo has two key differentiators: Firstly, it charges vCPM rates rather than CPC rates, which means you know people have seen your content. Secondly, content is published within media outlets and blogs, like Entrepreneur.com.
They work with over 1,700 publishers and claim a 300% increase on the performance of native ads. It is like having an external content network, with all the heavy lifting taken care of.
Similar to Outbrain and other competitors, such as Disqus, Taboola provides a content distribution platform on a CPC model.
How to implement (while factoring in downsides)
With all of these you can target using geography. None will get you as close as a sponsored post on Facebook, so all come down to trial and error. Have a budget and timescale that will allow for some fine tuning. Most also provide detailed analytics, which allows you to see what’s working and what isn’t.
Depending on your budget and resources, doing a side by side comparison (depending on your audience and the content) with promoted content across social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr – where the average promoted post gets reblogged 10,000 times). See which works best for your brand, which results in the highest upticks in traffic and conversions.
Winning the distribution game is key to making the most of your content marketing. As Gary Vaynerchuk noted, content may be king, but without distribution you have no queen and your household will be a mess.
Benjamin Kerry is Managing Director of Precise English, an SEO copywriting agency in Stockton on Tees, England. He specialises getting businesses set up online, from well-written content to designing and developing a beautiful & functional website.