Media partnerships

Media partnerships

Why hand over traffic?

One popular way for brands to get in on the content game is to engage a media owner. That might be a national newspaper group, magazine or digital platform. It’s not unusual to sign away £250,000 plus on such a partnership.

But is that good value? Perhaps not. Sure, association with a big media name helps validate your brand, but does it sell anything? Hmm.

Here are some reasons to reconsider such a strategy. And instead buy and publish content on your own site through a content agency.

It’s expensive

The media owner will promise you big numbers. They’ll get them, too, but it costs.

They enjoy good domain authority, which means their sponsored articles rank highly in search. They can also place your work near editorial, sometimes on the home page. But you could achieve much the same with your own content and an MPU.

Oddly, media owners often use content recommendation engines to make sure they hit your desired numbers.

In other words, they pay Outbrain or Taboola on a pay per click basis. You might as well do this for yourself. It’s cheaper.

Also, some media owners will like to sell you print space at a premium, perhaps in unwelcoming slots with no guaranteed numbers. It’s essential for their targets to do this. It may not be for yours.

It’s unresponsive – too many middle people

You will probably have a media-buying agency to help you place a media partnership. The media-buying agency will act a go-between, passing information between the media owner’s account handlers and your marketing department.

That’s costly, slow and frustrating, a form of Chinese whispers with the meter running. But, of course, it’s very much in the interests of the media-buying agency, who can claim to be running content and strategy.

Also, some media owners’ sponsored content departments are factory-like, churning out hundreds of campaigns under immense pressure.

You’d be better off dealing directly with creatives at a decent content agency. They will be faster and more flexible.

It doesn’t necessarily help you sell stuff

Brands get good numbers in a media partnership, but those eyeballs are nowhere near their site. They are on the media owner’s site, contributing to the media owner’s monthly totals. Nice for them.

Also, most newspapers are too generalist – they have achieved eyeballs for you, but who are these eyeballs?

So a partnership with media owner might be great for brand-building and reflected glory, less so for sales. Publishing material on your site, on the other hand, can lead straight to sales messaging, ecommerce or prospects.

They’re picky

Sometimes, working with a media owner can be frustrating and slow. Some media owners impose arcane rules on copy that mean nothing to marketing departments. They will reluctant to allow their big name journalists to participate. Some media owners even give their editors a veto over campaigns. That’s what they really think of you.

You may not own the material

Content produced by a media owner usually comes from freelance journalists and is commissioned to be used on that media owner’s site. If you like it and want to use it on your site, they may be reluctant to allow you to do so. Also, even if you do get permission and publish it, you risk eroding your SEO by duplicating the story.


In the long run placing content spend with a media owner is not enough.

We founded Highbrook to address these concerns and help clients become fully fledged publishers.

We aim to produce journalism, film and design better than that found on editorial sites. Also, we are fast in responding to clients’ needs. We do quality, scale and speed.

If this idea appeals, do book a cup of coffee with us on 0207 205 4158 and we’ll tell you more.

(NB: the last sentence is an example of a serious article shading into sales messaging.)

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