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Considerations to Make When Choosing a Paid Content Distribution Channel

Sep 15, 2015 / by Joseph Bianchi



Content marketing budgets are expected to increase massively, with 79 percent of marketers planning to increase their spend on content in 2016. But marketers are facing a common problem: the content they’ve worked so hard to produce just isn’t being seen by as many people as they would like it to be.

Distribution is an essential component to any content marketing plan, but knowing which channels to choose can be challenging to say the least.


The truth is that often marketers just aren’t sharing their content in the right places. So today, we’re going to share the pros and cons of some of the most popular paid content distribution channels to help get more eyes on your content.





In-Feed Native

In-feed native ad units allow marketers to seamlessly place branded content next to that of a heavy-hitting New York Times article. For this reason, many people believe that this method of advertising must cost an arm and a leg. But, thanks to a few ambitious companies that have programmed and standardized the new advertising space, this surprisingly isn’t the case.

With costs similar to banner ads, in-feed ad units can expect to see over ten times the engagement (CTR) of their display counterparts. While the industry is relatively new, it’s quickly demanding a growing portion of advertisers’ budgets. Part of the reason these ad units are so effective is because of the timing, context, and position in which they’re served—they offer value to the intended audience. However, as in-feed technology is still so green, innovation is lagging behind some other ad spaces. For instance, behavioral targeting hasn’t yet been fully established, as the infrastructure required remains behind that of traditional media. That being said, it’s safe to say that we can expect to see most of the catch-up happen in the next few quarters.

Another major advantage of in-feed ad units is the ability to track post-click engagement. Content marketing has been searching for relevant KPIs for years, and leading in-feed platforms offer the opportunity to measure performance by tracking the amount of time a user spends on the page, the number of pages they’ve viewed, the conversion path they took, and many other metrics. If forging meaningful connections with your customers is a priority for you, in-feed ad units will “serve” you well. (See what I did there?)


Discovery Widgets

The 5 Foods that Were Constantly on the Set of Harry Potter. Number 3 Will Blow You Away”.

We’ve all seen these ads, and the above is a prime example of a title you might find in the form of a discovery widget. Discovery widgets act as suggested reads, and are typically placed in tiles at the bottom of an article.

Historically used to exchange traffic between publishers, they provide light-hearted and entertaining content for an audience which can be great for building your brand. However, they’ve earned a somewhat negative reputation due in part to their use of “click-bait” titles. To overcome this, an industry-wide pivot needs to be made to move away from the “click-bait” model that sees publishers awarded, and instead to a model whereby the main objective is to allow brands to connect with their audiences.

Targeting capabilities are also somewhat limited when flying a widget campaign. Currently geo-targeting, as well as platform targeting in some cases, are the only targeting variables within your control. Examples of recent headlines I’ve seen include, “Woman Shows How Unrealistic Celeb Selfies Are”—which appeared on a story about murder on Inappropriate to say the least.

What’s more, discovery widgets offer poor brand safety, and there are no measures in place to prevent your ad from appearing next to content that’s less than reputable.


Let’s do some basic math: advertisement + editorial = advertorial. An advertorial, at its most basic level, is a brand message that masquerades itself as editorial content. The beauty of the advertorial is that your message benefits from the implied endorsement of the publication on which your content is hosted. The messaging your brand delivers through an advertorial typically goes into more depth than your traditional digital paid media campaign, offering more value to an audience while ensuring your brand secures more time in the spotlight.

But as effective as the advertorial is, unfortunately no complete infrastructure exists to scale advertorial spend. The terms of serving an advertorial must be negotiated on an advertorial-by-advertorial basis; targeting is limited to the publisher’s audience in which your advertorial is served; and the costs to place an advertorial on the property of premium publishers will cost you—so expect to pay up.



Facebook is the first social platform to pass one billion users, meaning that as an advertiser, you have access to over one billion user profiles. Sounds good, doesn’t it? It is. Facebook  also excels in its targeting capabilities; the company knows its users very well, and advertisers can rest assured that the right eyes will see your ad with this steadfast platform. Well, kind of...

Facebook’s targeting capabilities are undeniable. So naturally, brands have led initiatives to heavy-up on their Facebook ad spend. The problem is that as demand to serve on Facebook continues to increase, Facebook’s user growth is beginning to stabilize after years of growth. Anyone with a basic understanding of economics will understand that when demand surpasses supply, it’s not good for the buyers—or, in this case, the advertiser.

The increase in brands amplifying on Facebook has created an abundance of content, but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to absorb it all. Facebook realizes that it can’t follow the dollars and simply continue to serve more ads on users’ feeds—effectively spamming them—and has already begun to re-organize and prioritize which content should be served to its users.

While users may be happy about this change, advertisers aren’t so enthusiastic and are beginning to feel the pinch of rising costs. Advertisers are making a fairly large bet on Facebook, and are investing a great deal of time and dollars into cultivating an audience. There’s no doubt about it: Facebook can be a highly effective means of reaching the right users. But your content marketing portfolio should be diversified instead of being at the mercy of one network.


Topics: Blog Posts, Featured, News, Resources, FAQ

Written by Joseph Bianchi

Joseph Bianchi is a Customer Development Representative at StackAdapt by day and an avid Game of Thrones watcher by night. His passion lies in helping customers achieve the results they want from their native advertising campaigns. When he’s not keeping up with all things digital marketing or winning at table tennis at StackAdapt’s Toronto office, he can be found at home indulging in Mama Bianchi’s famous lasagna. Find him on Twitter here: @josephadapt.

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