Sponsored vs branded content blog post

Sponsored vs Branded Content

If you’re in marketing, you’re familiar with the terms “sponsored content” and “branded content.” But you might not know exactly what they mean. What’s the difference between the two? Are they the same? If not, how are they different? Good questions. If you’re unsure of the answers, you’re not alone.

There’s a lot of information — and misinformation — out there about branded content and sponsored content. It’s a source of confusion for PR pros and marketers who are just trying to get the word out about their brand’s awesomeness. Which should they choose to deliver that message, branded or sponsored content? The short answer is branded content. That’s because:

“Branded content” is what the content is. The heart and soul of the message. “Sponsored content” is a label attached to that content when it appears in major publications, online and in print.

Let’s explain this in more detail.

Branded content and sponsored content are the same. But different.

Branded content IS sponsored content … with one big differentiator. It has to do with how and where the content appears.

Branded content is expertly crafted storytelling that shines a light on who you are and what you stand for, communicating your brand in ways that will connect deeply with your audience. Learn how to create a successful branded content campaign

Branded content is designed to:

  • Connect, engage and align with your audience
  • Communicate who you are
  • Promote your values, mission and purpose
  • Collaborate with others
  • Generate true value for consumers … and for you

Branded content is not sales-y or pushy. It’s not product- or service-focused, though it can and often does include those elements. There are no clickable banners or pop-up ads. It’s not a press release. It’s a story, told by and about you. Unlike other forms of marketing or advertising, branded content does not directly promote your products or services. Instead, it creates connections with your audience by sharing what’s at the heart of your business. Explore our guide to MAT release success! 

What “sponsored content” means

You’ve surely seen “sponsored content” when you’re reading your favorite publication in print or online. It’s a label, or disclaimer, attached to the content by the publication to make it clear that the content:

  • Was created by an outside source, not by the journalists working for that publication
  • Is not an unbiased journalistic story
  • Is tied to a certain brand, much like advertising
  • Was paid for by the brand to appear in the publication

Why does sponsored content sometimes look and read differently?

You may have seen what appear to be different types of sponsored content when reading a publication online or in print. Some of it looks just like the other stories in the publication, has the same quality of writing and message, and doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. In short, it is professional, polished and looks like it belongs there. And then, there are the sore thumbs. Content that looks like it was cut and pasted from someplace else. Obviously advertorial. Hyping a product or brand ad nauseum. Learn how to your paid media started for your PR agency!

While those two types of content look and read differently, that’s not the difference between branded and sponsored content. That’s the difference in who creates it.

The best branded content is created by expert storytellers who can bring the zeitgeist of your brand and your message to life. At Brandpoint, our writers are professional journalists, many of whom have worked at the very publications where your content appears. They know how to write a story like a journalist because they are journalists. So your message will not scream “Advertorial!” to the reader. Learn how to distinguish branded content from product placement!

At Brandpoint, we are the experts in crafting powerful, effective and meaningful branded content that brings impressive results for our clients. We’re also the industry leader in distributing that content. Our vast distribution network that we’ve built over 25-plus years encompasses all of the major publishers in the U.S. and ensures your content will be seen by millions of people. We guarantee it.

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Your Branded Content Journey has just begun!