Debunking the Paid Content Myth.
Publishers are transitioning from a world in which they own the entire content supply chain – from research to dissemination – to one where the actual touchpoint with the reader happens on a handful of powerful social media platforms. In fact, more than half of Americans now get news from social media according to the American Press Institute, and almost two-thirds of Facebook users report finding, reading, discussing or sharing news on the social platform each week.
Competing for attention with the more than 4.75 billion items shared by Facebook users each day is no easy task. Making matters worse, social platforms are changing their algorithms to tailor content to a user’s specific interests, severely limiting the likelihood that a publisher’s content will be seen. Facebook users, for example, only see about 20 percent of relevant stories.
The belief that good content will always find an audience is fatally flawed. In today’s crowded publishing arena, even really good, quality content needs a paid-advertising boost.
Here are the top three reasons why publishers should be paying for content distribution:
1. Relying on organic distribution limits reach.
As editorial content is increasingly discovered and consumed on third-party platforms such as Facebook, many publishers are hopeful that their content will magically be discovered, shared and “go viral” to attract new audiences and subscribers. Unfortunately, relying on organic distribution restricts publishers to reaching members of the community they have already built. In addition, organic clicks are often a temporary fix. So even if something resonates well with your audience, the impact is confined to other community members … and perhaps a friend or two … but rarely attracts new return visitors. Social shares are not the ultimate goal.
While there isn’t a way to predict what content will take off around the web, publishers can give themselves a better chance to extend their reach to targeted audiences. By paying to distribute articles on social channels, publishers can put themselves in front of those who might not otherwise have seen the content and generate an opportunity to turn them into revenue-generating subscribers. Because what is better than viral content? Content that drives business results.
2. Paid distribution can improve the editorial process and audience engagement.
The proliferation of social channels has also yielded an unprecedented amount of data on users and their preferences. A paid distribution model allows publishers to quickly gather and analyze feedback received on various types of content to understand what resonates with each audience segment.
With this level of detail, publishers can improve engagement with specific audiences – transforming content initiatives, advertising campaigns and other critical revenue-generating opportunities. Branded content campaigns can take on new life as publishers work with brand advertisers to develop more impactful results. By better understanding each audience segment, publishers can map the editorial process to audience interests and more confidently sell ad space to advertisers – even at a higher premium.
3. Clicks are not dollars.
Publishers need to finally move beyond traditional metrics like cost-per-click and click-through rate; cost-per-action metrics are much more important. Cheap traffic may seem like an appealing quick fix for lagging numbers, but it cannot drive the critical conversions necessary to build audiences and revenue for the long term.
Even great content benefits from paid distribution. Forward-thinking publishers are already driving better business results by tapping the value paid content distribution can deliver in today’s social media-saturated environment. Thanks to the advent of social channels, they have gained an infinite amount of insight and opportunity. The publishers who haven’t figured out how to take advantage of that yet need to catch up soon!