Three legs hold up the content distribution table: owned, earned, and paid content distribution.
Lots of companies assume that paid channels like PPC or retargeting are the fast and easy way to build an audience, but without the foundation of developed owned and earned channels, you may be building an audience you can’t support.
This article breaks down why you should pay for content distribution, when you should budget for paid distribution, and how to get started—before you dump a significant portion of your monthly budget into unsupported distribution channels.
A quick overview of owned, earned, and paid distribution
Owned channels are the distribution methods that you have the most control over, such as your website, email, and social media. On these channels, you determine the writing and posting schedule.
Owned media has the advantage of control, but it also has the disadvantage of limited reach. You may find that you have trouble expanding your audience through owned media despite your best efforts.
You can also amplify your writing through earned distribution, where you gain the attention of other brands who share your content on their websites and social channels.
Earned means you didn’t pay for the traffic, likes, or clicks—you got it because the audience trusts the brand that shares your content. Earned distribution is highly valuable because it can improve the reach of both brands, but like any valuable referral, it’s hard to come by.
Paid distribution is any third-party channel where you pay to post your content in front of audiences.
There are three main types of paid content distribution:
- Native advertising: sponsored or branded posts that appear alongside the publisher’s content
- Social Media and Search Ads: CPC or CPM ads where the social media or search engine is responsible for distributing content to a chosen audience
- Content syndication: display advertising, telemarketing, or email marketing where a third party manages distribution to proprietary audiences
You’ll often see paid distribution links at the bottom of publisher sites. Depending on the company running the distribution and the targeting from the news site, these links can range from clickbait articles like “The Secret Food That Makes This 80 Yr Old Look 20” to niche white papers and reports from trusted sources. These PPC channels require advertisers to compete via ad auction, so they usually work best for well-targeted campaigns.
In addition to paid link distribution on publisher sites, you can also use services that provide content syndication via email or telemarketing channels. These services contact individuals who meet your targeting from their own proprietary contact lists and offer them content that meets their interests. Most marketers consider a link click or consent to receive a piece of content a lead qualification.
Why should you pay for content distribution?
Even the best earned and owned content distribution growth strategies will eventually plateau. Paid distribution jumpstarts your marketing to reach those audiences that you haven’t yet been able to access. Once you reach that hidden audience, you can fold that newly interested audience into your current owned content efforts.
Because you’re targeting new audiences in new sectors, you’re not going to have as high a rate of return on paid distribution as you would for your owned and earned media. But paid distribution also borrows trust from the distributing brand, so you don’t start from zero.
Paid distribution is the cold calling of media distribution.
It has very little brand recognition to trade upon, and so it has to be your very best content, and that content has to have a network of other good content to support it. The audience you reach through paid distribution is ice cold, so focus on warming them up a bit before you hit them with the hot sales pitch.
The last thing you want is for readers to click on your ad, read your article, and then have nowhere else to go and no other action that interests them on your site. A good content environment for a new audience has blog posts, ebooks, videos, and other multimedia offerings readily available and accessible to keep the audience on your site. If you only give the reader the option to buy now or leave your site, what do you think a new, untested reader will do?
Every piece of content you pay to distribute should be a part of a network of marketing triggers that attempt to reach the audience where they are in the purchase funnel.
Maybe the reader isn’t ready to buy yet, but they know they have a need. Give them the opportunity to sign up for an email list, follow you on social media, or read other articles that give deeper insight into the same issue.
When should you pay for content distribution?
The answer to this question, like so much in marketing, is, “Well, it depends.”
You might be ready to dive into paid distribution if:
- You need to tap into new markets and audiences
- Your reach isn’t growing through your existing channels
- You have the budget to grow your audience. Paid channels can cost anything from a couple of dollars a day to thousands of dollars a month.
- You have a plan to keep your current audience and any new audience you capture engaged
How do you get started with paid distribution?
You’ve got a couple of options for content distribution.
Digital syndication networks like Outbrain, Adsense, or Taboola can place your content on existing publisher sites. The targeting on these networks gets smarter every day, but you’ll want to watch your returns closely, especially if you pay per click or impression.
These companies don’t provide a whole lot of insight into where they advertise your content, so keep a sharp eye on your lead and conversion metrics to ensure you’re reaching the right audience.
Paid distribution via telemarketing and email syndication can provide you with a better value. Companies like TechnologyAdvice offer content syndication as a service that charges based on cost per lead (CPL). We offer your content to our proprietary database and you only pay when you receive a validated lead. We can even help your team build the articles, ebooks, or white papers you use to expand your audience. Contact us today to get started.