The advantages of selling sponsored content on a cost per read basis

Publishers use various methods for selling custom branded content. But many of the most popular pricing models don’t align with advertiser expectations. Learn how selling branded content on a cost-per-read model can expand the potential profitability of your program.

advantages of selling branded content on a cost per read basis
Matt Moore
Matt Moore
Associate Manager of Product Marketing
Read time: 5 mins

Custom sponsored content, also called branded content, is often priced at a premium and serves as the highest-touch component of a digital media campaign, meaning advertisers have high expectations for performance. 

Advertisers invest in sponsored content to generate meaningful connections with a publisher’s readers. When the advertiser pays you for a content campaign that generates single-second impressions, you fall short of their expectations. This translates to disappointed customers who likely won’t return for more content. Experiences like this sour some advertisers on the medium altogether. 

Selling custom sponsored content isn’t the same as selling a banner ad, yet many publishers continue to take this approach.

The best pricing strategy should reflect the goal of the medium: engagement. This is why the best solution for many publishers is to sell sponsored content on a cost-per-read (CPR) basis. 

The most common pricing models for sponsored content campaigns

Before diving into the CPR model, you should understand the other ways that publishers charge for sponsored content campaigns.

The most common pricing models include:

  • Package rate. Publishers charge a fixed or flat rate that includes content production and publication, as well as social media and website promotion.
  • Cost per mille (CPM). Publishers charge per thousand impressions on ads promoting sponsored content. In some cases, publishers add a charge for content production.

Neither model caters to what the advertiser truly wants from sponsored content: people to read their story. This is where the CPR model comes into play. 

What is the CPR model?

Fulfilling advertiser expectations is one of the biggest challenges publishers face with custom sponsored content. The cost-per-read (CPR) model—or cost-per-view (CPV) for video content—helps publishers overcome this obstacle.

The CPR model guarantees a certain number of high-quality reads for a sponsored content piece. Typically, this model includes content promotion at no additional charge. Content production may or may not be included.

Under the CPR model, the advertiser’s marketing team can quantify the value of the content by knowing how many people will actively engage with it upfront. 

Why it pays to invest in the CPR model

The cost-per-read (CPR) model offers numerous advantages to publishers compared to other sponsored content pricing models. Read more to find out why you should consider this profitable strategy. 

Set your client relationships up for success 

The CPR model fosters a better dynamic between you and the advertiser. The model reduces the risk for an advertiser—who may be hesitant to spend thousands on one piece of content—and removes ambiguity around the campaign deliverables. 

CPR also aligns with advertiser expectations. More and more advertisers demand the kind of guaranteed performance this model delivers. Many advertisers and agencies issue requests for proposals (RFP) that require guaranteed performance. 

Implementing a CPR pricing model allows you to easily sell sponsored content services and establish yourself as a trusted media partner. 

Make your sponsored content pricing scalable

For publishers, the CPR model boosts the value of high-quality content. The more popular your content becomes, the simpler it’ll be to drive traffic. In the long term, this increases the total amount of reads you can promise advertisers. 

If you can continue delivering high-quality engagement, your earning potential is infinite. 

The flat fee model limits your sponsored content’s maximum earning potential because every package specifies the promotional methods you can use. Under a CPR model, you earn incremental revenue every time you drive a new consumer to a piece of sponsored content.

Since the CPR model is based on readers instead of impressions on promotional tactics, you have more flexibility. You can determine what channels work best for your publication and audience. That may be organic social posts, native traffic drivers, or even paid ads. This level of flexibility gives you complete control over the cost of executing each campaign.

Instead, work within a model that offers advertisers exactly what they want: engaged readers.

Capitalize on content amplification

Publishers often charge up to a 300 percent premium on content amplification costs, according to Pressboard by data. Advertisers are eager to have a publisher’s trusted brand amplify their stories to a broader audience, making it worth the premium. 

Many factors make content amplification valuable, including:

  • Hard-to-find organic traffic. Organic social visibility across platforms is on the decline. For example, the average reach of an organic Facebook post hovers around .07 percent, according to Hootsuite. Paid amplification methods are essential for driving content views.
  • Ability to leverage your name and audience. Advertisers will pay more to promote their content on your website and social accounts. 
  • Niche audience access. Paid promotion allows advertisers to reach a niche segment of your audience or even access groups beyond your organic reach. 

Expand your audience at zero cost

According to Hunch, the cost per click on Facebook ads has increased by approximately 89 percent since 2020. This not only makes social amplification difficult for advertisers—it also makes it challenging for publishers to attract new readers.

Under the CPR model, the advertiser covers the cost of paid social ads. In addition to sharing content with users who already follow your social accounts, you can reach a broader audience that aligns with your client’s campaign goals. This allows you to accomplish your campaign goals while attracting new people and turning them into loyal readers.

Supercharge your sponsored content program revenue

A better business model for sponsored content is long overdue. The cost-per-read model allows your teams to spend time doing what they do best: telling stories. The good news is that the cost-per-read model: 

  • Can be easily implemented
  • Increases the profitability of your sponsored content 
  • Makes your sponsored content more desirable to advertisers

The success of sponsored content as a publisher revenue stream hinges on your ability to increase efficiency and scale. Pressboard—part of the for Publishers suite—can help you effectively manage sponsored content campaigns across your website, social, and paid channels.

Learn more about what can do for your publishing business today.

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