Content Marketing

Sponsorship and content marketing are a match made in heaven. When I look back to the early days of sponsorship around the “soap operas,” sport, and TV, product and content placement was king. Then we moved to sponsorship being about measurability from a “media” perspective. It became about signs, logo inclusion, and “impressions.” Oh, thank goodness those days are now past us!

Today, just a title on an event, name on a building, or a “sponsor” of a team or production needs to move beyond the traditional. Content inclusion for a sponsor is the path to emotional connection, interaction, and delivery of value from the sponsor to the consumer. We need to engage with our consumers in a way that they want to be engaged.

John Deere began producing a magazine called The Furrow in 1895. Today, that same magazine reaches about 1.5 million farmers in 40 countries. They build and deliver their own content in a magazine. This is no different than Galen Weston’s President’s Choice “Recipes to Riches” television program. It is all content-based marketing.

In today’s world, we can reach out with our sponsorships and sponsors’ content marketing beyond TV and magazines. Digital and social media allow us to take sponsor content, such as nutrition tips, product comparisons, and the product itself into story lines. Sometimes called advertorials, now relabelled “native advertising,” this form of sponsorship integrates a sponsor’s product or message into what looks and feels like a news piece, an update, or online general information. Sponsored content is a critical element of today’s sponsorship tool box.

As Marketing Magazine reported, 32% of all native ads (sponsored content messaging aligned with a property) are shared (digitally or otherwise) while only 19% of banner ads are shared. Sponsored content on digital media have a click-through rate 10 times that of traditional display or banner adds.

But when consumers were actually surveyed, the report goes on to note, when asked if they would prefer to see banner ads or sponsored content on the web, over 57% said they would prefer to see banner ads. 18% said they prefer to see sponsored posts because they are typically more interesting, while 25% said they would like to see sponsored posts because “banner ads are annoying.” Furthermore, over 2/3 of those surveyed felt they had been deceived upon realizing that an article or video was sponsored by a brand!

So what do we do? Branded content and “native advertising” truly deliver better results in engagement for sponsors, but consumers don’t like to be deceived and probably like banner ads because they can avoid the message if they wish… they know what they are getting and everything is transparent.

I believe that sponsored content and integration of that content is critical for sponsor ROI. But it needs to be transparent and the association must be clear. Let me know your thoughts on native advertising/sponsored content and how you feel we should be engaging in it as a property or a sponsor.

These are just one person’s thoughts. Yours are welcomed as well. Please add your thoughts or comments below. Thank you for reading and your feedback.


  1. There is one aspect to content marketing sponsors often miss when it comes to cause sponsorship marketing – and that’s marketing the content of the cause. Why would we do that, I can hear a sponsor say? There is one very good reason which addresses the deception perception.

    Here’s the insight. We know from research that when a company shares “cause” information as part of their sponsorship activation – about 7 in 10 consumers say they trust that company more. Where consumer trust is in short supply – that’s big! (but it has to be authentic, of course.)

    • Mark – do you have a reference/citation for this. ie. specific to cause content marketing?


    • Mark,
      Thanks for that addition. Really great point. You must leverage the association and share the content from the cause to be credible and trusted!


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