Distributing Content Through Paid Media

July 23, 2013

paid mediaLast week, I wrote an article about distributing content that provided a broad overview of paid, owned, and earned media. This week, I’m continuing that series by taking a closer look at how paid media works.
As I noted in my last post, you can think of paid media as advertising that you are actively spending your marketing budget on, as opposed to earned and owned media, which really just cost you time and effort. As you might expect, using paid media has both pros and cons:

PROS: The advantage of paid media opportunities is that they allow you to quickly get your message out in front of a large audience of potential new customers. Paid media also allows you to target your messages so that they hit the right people, and it gives you access to real-time data that you can use to tailor future campaigns.

CONS: The downside is that paid media can be pricey. Not only that, because you’re competing with so many other brands to get people’s attention, your messages can easily get overlooked or ignored. Plus, unlike earned and owned media, paid media does little to help build your credibility.

Although few would advocate relying solely on paid media these days, it nevertheless still has an important role to play in your overall content distribution strategy. Leveraged strategically in combination with owned and earned media opportunities, you will be in a place to achieve great results (more on this in a future post in this series).

For now, let’s take a look at some of the main types of online paid media you might want to consider using:

Pay per click: Perhaps the best known form of online paid media, pay per click (PPC) is when marketers place ads on websites and/or search engines and pay a set amount every time that someone clicks on them. There are a variety of platforms and services that you can use to achieve this, such as Outbrain and Wakefly, both of which put your content on high-quality (albeit sometimes less targeted) sites. A great example of a platform for doing so with search engines is Google Adwords (see this video for a full explanation of how it works). By ensuring that your content is tied to keywords, Google Adwords offers a more targeted approach.

Contextual advertising: A very effective way of getting your content out to targeted audiences, contextual advertising is when you scan websites for keywords so that you can ensure that you are only displaying ads for your content on sites that are relevant to that particular piece of content. One of the best examples is the Google Display Network (see this video for an explanation of how it works). Through contextual advertising you can ensure that your new eBook on data back up and recovery appears on tech websites specifically focused on data back up and recovery rather than sites where the visitors typically wouldn’t be interested in that topic.

Social media advertising: While you can push your content out socially for free through your own accounts, sometimes it might make sense to promote it through paid advertisements. You can use promoted tweets, LinkedIn ads, promoted videos, and Facebook ads, for example. The challenge is that these tactics are often quite expensive and require a significant investment to make an impact. That said, if you have the budget, they can be a very effective way of getting your content in front of targeted audiences.

Search retargeting: Have you ever visited one site or looked at one particular product online, only to see advertisements for that site and/or product all over the place afterwards? That’s the magic of search retargeting, which allows you to advertise to people who have previously visited your website. For example, imagine someone comes to your website and sees that you have a lot of great content, but doesn’t download any of it. With search retargeting, after visiting your site that person would then see advertisements for your content on other websites, beckoning them to go back to a site they already know to download it. Companies like Simpli.fi can help.

No matter what form of paid media you choose to use, or how much budget you put against it, the most important factor to keep in mind is that your efforts will only be effective if you have compelling content to back it up. If you are going to put the time, effort, and money into using paid media, do so for pieces of content that people will really get some value out of.
Have you used paid media to help distribute your content? If so, what have your experiences been?

Content Marketing Director

<strong>Kevin Cain</strong> is the Content Marketing Director for <a href="http://www.bluechipcommunication.com.au/">BlueChip Communication</a>, Australia's leading financial services communication firm. Before joining BlueChip, Kevin was the Director of Content Strategy for OpenView.