Guide To Branded Content – Part 4: Disclosure & Distribution

February 29, 2017

What’s been covered in our Guide to Branded Content Series:

In our final installment, we will take a look at how publishers disclose the relationship between content and advertiser, and how they are distributing branded content.



Sponsorships consist of independently produced journalist content and thus don’t require explicit disclosure. At most, the content will feature a Sponsored By or similar disclaimer (Presented By…, Brought To You By…) and can include the advertiser’s logo, or solely display only the advertiser’s logo. Because the advertiser or brand has no integration or approval over the content then it is not considered to be an advertisement, which legally requires clear disclosure.

Custom Content

Where the advertiser has influence over the direction of Integrated and Promotional Custom Content, explicit disclosure is required. Labels can include Sponsored By… (and its variations), Branded Content, or using the name of the publisher’s content studio itself as a label – such as the Huffington Post’s HuffPost Partner Studio or the New York Times T Brand Studio.

Promotional executions may go further in disclosure due to an advertiser’s heavier influence in promoting their brand or product in the content, and thus labels such as Partner Content, In Conjunction With, and other nomenclature which clearly exhibits the relationship between publisher and advertiser are more prominent.

Advertiser Content

Advertiser content is just that – content completely created by an advertiser’s marketing department or their 3rd-party agency, and thus readers require disclosure to make the content’s origins obvious.

  • Hosted Advertiser Content especially needs prominent disclosure labels, such as Branded Content and Partner Content, as it appears on a publisher’s site but it is not publisher produced.
  • Destination based content appears where the advertiser dictates, whether that be the advertiser’s own site or another destination of their choosing. The promotions to Destination campaigns require disclosure, and in some cases publishers make it clear that a reader is leaving the publisher’s site itself.



Sponsorships (editorial produced content) does not rely on paid distribution efforts (e.g. Taboola, Facebook). Instead, publishers promote this type of branded content through owned properties using native formats, display formats and rich media units that are more engaging. Many publishers will also rely on organic social channels like Facebook and Twitter to increase exposure.

Custom Content

Integrated and Promotional executions of Custom Content have performance based metrics, like guaranteed views or engagement, and publishers use all their available distribution methods to hit those targets:

  • Clearly labelled, onsite native promotions appear across homepages and article pages.
  • Promotion on dedicated social channels for the custom content studio itself (e.g. HuffPo Partner Studio)
  • Paid offsite distribution on paid social (Facebook, Twitter) or content recommendation engines (Outbrain, Taboola).

Advertiser Content

The value in Advertiser Content, both Hosted and Destination, is the audience. Advertiser’s create their own content, but covet the publisher audiences they can’t reach on their own. Clearly labelled onsite native promotions to Hosted and Destination content is typical of Advertiser Content. However, a publisher would never use their organic social presence to promote advertiser content – It’s highly protected property when preventing the blurring of lines between editorial and branded content. While paid promotion is an option, advertisers are aware of the costs of such promotion and often take it on themselves as part of a larger agency buy or execution, or increasingly expect publishers to charge for these services at cost.

Need to know more about how Branded Content aligns with the marketing funnel? Check out Part 1: The Basics, Part 2: Content Creation, and Part 3: Pricing Models in Polar’s ongoing series.


JULY 2017

Polar’s Snapshot of Global Branded Content Performance presents the complete picture for major markets and publishers this past quarter.