Sponsored content: The changing face of content marketing

Buzzwords, such as “native advertising,” “brand publishing,” “custom content,” “sponsored content” and “corporate journalism” are fresh industry lingo for what advertisers have been trying to do since the dawn of advertising – appeal to potential customers with content.

Though the ultimate goal of content marketing has stayed the same, the agencies and mediums of delivery are vastly different. Companies are turning to web content experts to produce ads that reinforce their brands while matching the editorial voice that the site’s dedicated readers have come to expect.

Upworthy — a website for viral content started in March 2012 — creates content marketing for clients. They recently created “Watch the Spread of Walmart Across the Country in One Horrifying GIF” and ran it on their site for the AFL-CIO.

“Our goal in this process was not to advertise for the AFL-CIO or to promote companies,” said AFL-CIO digital strategies director Nicole Aro. “It was to instigate conversations that are happening around what people feel in their everyday lives.”

Atypical creative shops are popping up everywhere. The Onion, yes that Onion, did a mock campaign for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer in 2012, and has been doing ad work ever since under the nameplate Onion Labs. Their client list speaks to their success thus far.

Even Buzzfeed, home of endless listicles and time-wasting quizzes, is producing what they call “featured partner” content, such as this list for music-streaming service Spotify.

Has your brand considered using a sponsored-content service?