By Mike Kisseberth

Marketers and brands have been having a moment with native content, which has evolved into more elaborate stunts and experiences.

This race for consumer engagement, taken to its logical extreme, results in brands like Red Bull literally sending a man into near-space for a death-defying stunt. These types of stunts (and ambitious online native efforts) can be very effective in terms of raising visibility.

Mass-market brands such as Red Bull or Bud Light go to great lengths and expense to model out the contribution of this “content” to the bottom line. This can create an aspirational desire for all brands to march down this content path. Before jumping in, it is important to establish those bottom-line correlations. This will increase the chances of success for the marketer as well as renewal for the publisher.

Unfortunately, in place of those tight models, most native content efforts are typically measured using KPIs that don’t link directly to the bottom line—page views and engagement being some of the most frequent. Again, while these metrics can be loosely related to the bottom line, the link isn’t typically clear enough to justify the five- or six-figure prices some major publishers charge for a single piece of sponsored content. The CMO might buy in, but does the CFO?

Simply attracting a large audience to a piece of content is not enough to guarantee bottom-line results. The pursuit of large audiences can often result in content so far afield from anything to do with the sponsor, it leaves you scratching your head. Large audiences are great, but not without the results to justify the expense.

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