Sponsored Content Pricing: Are You Getting Ripped Off?

Sponsored Post Pricing

What should a sponsored post cost? How much is fair for a publisher to be paid? What are other brands paying? And what do they get for their money?

Price transparency is one of many factors keeping sponsored content marketing from reaching scale. Unlike display and text ad buys, few opportunities exist for brands or their agencies to define a content marketing objective, target an audience, set a budget and let her rip. Reaching a highly fragmented audience with distributed content therefore, remains a significant challenge.

And the problem isn’t isolated to the marketing side of the equation. Blog publishers, who command the attention of the audience that brands require, are no better equipped to take advantage of the push toward sponsored content. By and large, their available inventory of publishing real estate remains hidden to any given brand, mixed in with millions of other sites. When opportunities do come, many blog publishers find themselves at a loss for how to properly price a sponsored content placement.

Content Needs a Marketplace

Imagine trying to rent an apartment by opening the phone book and seeing if anyone you call has a room for rent. Renters would never find most of the space that’s actually available. Nor could they easily compare the value of each property to establish a fair price.

Conversely, landlords would be forced to sit and hope for a renter to contact them. And if one does, what’s a reasonable price to ask? Who’s to say what’s too little or too much when there’s no easy way to know the going rates for that type of apartment, in that part of town?

It sounds ridiculous, and yet that’s how sponsored content distribution currently works. Without a central marketplace to access this highly distributed supply, or to provide either party pricing transparency, the sponsored content market remains illiquid and inefficient.

That’s why we’re building Content Blvd, to make
the distribution of sponsored content fast, easy and efficient.
We believe in helping the best ideas win. To do that,
they need to reach their target audience.

Tell Us About Your Own Sponsored Content Experience

If you’re a brand, agency or publisher we can use your input. Our Sponsored Content Pricing Survey is designed to begin answering the tough questions about how this fragmented market currently operates, and what you, as a stakeholder in it, would like to see improved.

The survey takes just a few minutes and you can choose to remain completely anonymous. Every new insight we gather can help make us all get better at giving and receiving good value through content.

We expect to learn about common “best practices” that are developing, as well as sticking points and frustrations. As with any young industry, effective online content marketing has a long way to go to be useful and accessible to more online marketers, and more quality publishers. We hope to get it there.

Take the survey here.

Mike is Co-founder and CMO of Content BLVD, a marketplace where product companies and YouTubers meet to get more products into more videos. He's written for, been quoted in, and kicked out of many fine establishments.

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Posted in Branded Content, Content Marketing, ContentBLVD News, Native Advertising, Sponsored Content
7 comments on “Sponsored Content Pricing: Are You Getting Ripped Off?
  1. cooperatize says:

    We have developed a marketplace for sponsored content specifically for long tail niche blogs. We’ve aggregated the prices from various bloggers and have noticed certain trends emerge in terms of the blog’s traffic, vertical, and audience.

    It is tough though, since websites are usually judged by their absolute numbers (web traffic), but the selling point for niche blogs is that their audience is much more engaged relative to a large blog or news outlet.

    To back out a very rough price, take your blog’s monthly page views and assume a $10-$20 CPM. Then apply a very subjective premium based on the loyalty or engagement that your blog has versus a regular large news outlet. The issue is that sponsored content will never be progammatically bought since each piece of content is unique to the blog that is publishing it.

  2. […] a perfect example. Two days ago, I wrote a post titled, Sponsored Content Pricing: Are You Getting Ripped Off? As of today, it’s 5th in Google search for “sponsored content pricing.” Why does […]

  3. chilydigital says:

    Great post. I’ve had something similar on my mind for a while but not got round to writing it yet. Sometimes I’m outraged by the prices I get back from bloggers who seem to have no idea what the value of their blog is. More often than not they over-value a blog post on their site and so ensues a long negotiation process. One of the questions on your survey asks how long a post takes to publish. This is difficult to answer. If I were to clock the time precisely, then it would probably be less than an hour in total, but this is spread over days, even weeks as I wait for and manage responses from outreach, so I plumped for 1-3 hours, but that doesn’t take int account time wasted reaching out to blogs that don’t reply. Another question asks are sponsored posts value for money; I think the perceived value of a sponsored or guest post is diminishing because the link has no value due to ongoing Google updates. Therefore, looking forward the value of a post is the engagement it sparks, the amount of shares it gets and other bloggers linking to it. If your content makes it onto a high authority site such as Mashable, then shares and links are pretty much guaranteed, but for your average Joe blogger with a few thousand visits p/m and few thousand followers on Twitter, it aint gonna do much.

    • Mike Sobol says:

      Thanks for you perspective, Matt. Value is definitely hard to judge, given that what you’re trying to do affects how you perceive it. Most price discussions I’ve seen from the blogger side of things revolve around how to set their own prices– there’s no market mechanism to guide prices yet. So it’s no wonder perceptions of value are often far apart.

  4. Valerie King says:

    I happened across Mike’s articles (which are outstanding btw) because I was approached by some very large firms that represents some huge national brands wishing to place sponsored content on our site and digital magazine. Of course the first questions they want to know is: how much do we charge? Good question! And so begins the “back and forth dance” referenced by Chilydigital above. I’m finding that since there is no precedence for pricing, the only questions that I can ask are: what type of sponsored content do you want??? No clear answer has ever been received, just a “how much do you charge?”

    We are a very niche market (rock/hard rock/metal/alternative music) with over 2M hits per month (25-35k avg. per day). So why is the onus on the site/blog/publishers to come up with a pricing structure? I’ve tried saying, “let’s talk about this on a case by case basis” to no avail. Obviously they have clients that are looking to reach our demographic of loyal readers. What is that worth to them? They know our numbers/ranking or they wouldn’t have reached out. They know who we are.

    So…I’m supposed to come up with every possible scenario of what THEY have in mind and put a price on it? This can entail a simple “Sponsored by “X Co.” for coverage of a concert or music festival to a 15 sec. ad prior to a YouTube video interview of a big band. Labor-wise, it’s not that intensive to insert/create either of those types of “sponsored content.” However, if you start getting into featured stories/articles, interviews, reviews, etc. then it’s a whole different ballgame. That could require hours upon hours of writing and editing, posting, layout.

    It seems to me that until there is in fact somewhat of what is considered to be a standard formula (open to negotiation of course) based on the type of sponsored content desired + time to publish + market + site traffic = $ then the onus should be on the advertisers/brands or the firms representing them to come in with an opening offering price. It would do away with the blogs that “overvalue” themselves immediately and waylay any fears of “being ripped off” by persons such as myself. Should I say $25 or $1500? It’s crazy and I’m no closer to an answer than I was a few days ago. But I’ll see how it all pans out. Hopefully both of us will end up happy and consider it a win/win. Until then…I suppose I’ll try yet another variation of “sponsored content” google search term to continue my cram-course education on this perplexing topic.

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