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How Much Should Sponsored Articles Really Cost? [New Data]

Sponsored articles are one of the new shiny new objects in the content marketing world. This new advertising channel has opened the doors for brands to become part of everyday conversations with consumers on the platforms they trust most for news, education, and entertainment -- media outlets.

Sitting at the intersection of editorial thought leadership and native advertising, sponsored articles have only recently risen to prominence as a tactic worthy of garnering a share of marketing budgets. The novelty of the practice, for brands and publishers alike, means that many transactional aspects are still undefined. Lack of industry-wide advertising standards, confusion surrounding definitions and forms of sponsored content, informal pricing methodologies, and unexplored benefits have all created a haze of disillusion around sponsored articles.

Yet the most common question asked about sponsored articles should actually be the simplest to answer: How much do they cost?

A Sponsored Article Pricing Analysis

I set out to find the answer and published the results in the Media Buyer’s Guide to Sponsored Content. Within the guide is a research study conducted from March to June of 2014 that collected sponsored article prices from 550 blogs and publications and unveiled correlations with a variety of predictor variables, including Domain Authority (DA), Page Authority (PA), PageRank (PR), AlexaRank (AR), and Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest followings. The goal was to establish fair market value standards for sponsored articles, and consequentially, allow marketers to budget more effectively.

In the study, publications were classified as websites that already utilize traditional display advertising and have editorial content that is regularly created by more than five writers, contributors, or columnists. Everything else was classified as a blog. All told, data from 474 blogs and 76 publications were used in the study.

A quick look at the data showed that 97% of the price points below $1,500 were blogs, while 82% of the price points above $1,500 were publications.

Price-Distribution-All-Data-1

While this serves as a baseline expectation for cost floors and ceilings on a per-article basis, it doesn’t quite tell the whole story. The guide goes into far greater detail to predict fair market prices based on the independent variables listed above.

What Should Sponsored Articles on Blogs Cost?

A multivariable regression analysis showed strong correlations between blog prices and Domain Authority, Facebook Fans, AlexaReach, and PageRank. The resulting predictive pricing model for sponsored articles on blogs is as follows:

BLOG PRICE = -60.5 + 5.97(DA) + 0.978(thousand FB fans) + 15.1(PR) – 0.000007(AR)

Based on the data from the sample set gathered, a blog with a Domain Authority of 55, 25,000 Facebook Fans, an AlexaRank score of 1,500,000, and a PageRank of 4 should charge somewhere in the ballpark of $342. Anything significantly higher or lower is probably not priced in line with fair market value.

What Should Sponsored Articles on Publications Cost?

For publications, the same analysis revealed strong correlations between sponsored article prices and Domain Authority, Facebook Fans, Pinterest followers, and PageRank. The predictive pricing model is as follows:

PUBLICATION PRICE = -37000 + 314(DA) + 20.9(thousand FB fans) + 5152(PR) – 46.6(thousand Pinterest followers)

Using the same logic, a publication with a Domain Authority of 75, PageRank of 5, 350 thousand Facebook fans, and 35 thousand Pinterest followers should charge somewhere around $18,000.

It’s important to note, however, that publications typically offer sponsored content package deals instead of one-off posts like most blogs. For this reason, predicted prices for publications may not accurately reflect the cost of a single sponsored article; rather, the price indicates the minimum cost of a sponsored content deal.

How to Make These Sponsored Content Formulas Work for You

Are you a media buyer looking to create a more accurate budget for sponsored content? Or maybe you work for a blog or publication and you’re wondering what you should charge for sponsored articles and sponsored content package deals?

Plug and chug using the equations above to get a fair market value for any blog or publication. To find Domain Authority, use Small SEO Tools. For PageRank and AlexaRank, use Check Page Rank. Finding the number of Facebook Fans and Pinterest followers should just take a simple search.

Why You Should Care

As a relatively new way for brands to build audiences and increase exposure, sponsored articles represent a growing brand opportunity -- at least for those that know how to plan effectively and build them into a comprehensive online marketing strategy. Understanding cost factors, common deal structures, targeting strategies, and appropriate measurement objectives is crucial for success.

Want to learn more about buying sponsored content? Check out the free Media Buyer’s Guide to Sponsored Content -- it covers these topics and more to help marketers use sponsored articles to their advantage. 

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