Anatomy of a “Sponsored Post”

11 Aug

Screenshot from

Embarrassing Disclaimer: In order to write this blog post, I have to admit that I occasionally read Gawker.

In magazines, publishers put “Special Advertising Section” across the tops of the sponsored content.  I guess my online eye is a little less trained to recognize sponsored materials, because today on Gawker I was tricked into reading a sponsored post!

Being in the online marketing realm myself, I have to admit that the sponsored post on Gawker was well executed for the following four reasons:

1. The Headline: “You Need a New Profile Picture.”
Why it Works: The headline leads with the word “you,” which is always a good thing. It plays on mine and other reader’s insecurities about online personas.  It doesn’t sound like an ad.

2. The Image: An egotistical dude in a suit taking his own picture.
Why it Works: I instantly don’t like this jerk with long hair, wearing a suit and taking himself too seriously. Reading about him and why he is an idiot will make me feel better about myself so I am drawn in.

3. The Body Copy: “That over-exposed, half-faced, self portrait is not even Top Eight-worthy. It’s time for you to get over 2005 and get a new damn photo of yourself.”
Why it Works: This post leads with interesting copy that does not mention the sponsor right away. The copy sounds like other Gawker posts.

4. The Offer:  Take a survey and enter to win a camera.
Why it Works: Fuji, the advertiser, stands to learn something about its audience and the survey participant gets a chance to win a camera. That’s a win-win. Fuji isn’t just counting clicks or impressions here. Instead, they are doing market research with a survey and at the same time generating interest in their products. Now that I know I can win a Fuji camera, I become more interested in the Fuji brand and its products in general.

The Downsides: There are two big areas where this sponsored post misses the mark.

  • The survey link takes you to an off-site, unbranded survey page which doesn’t exactly scream “TRUST ME! I AM SECURE!  YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE!”
  • In order to enter to win the camera, survey participants must send a separate email to Gawker where they cut and paste the last question of the survey. This low-tech and time consuming step will definitely lower response rates.

Have you seen any shining examples of sponsored content or in-conversation marketing? What do you think of this ad?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: