2017 will be an important year for content. With customers looking for more authentic, trustworthy ways to research products, advertisers looking to partner with content creators will find themselves in an extremely beneficial position to reaching (and converting) these consumers. In this article, we’ll review 8 key strategies on how advertisers can make the most of a product placement campaign with publishers, from identifying the right publishers to work with to keeping the relationship strong after the campaign is over.

Your customers want authenticity. They want honesty, and they want something they can trust. To get this, customers are gravitating more and more towards content producers, influencers, and brand ambassadors. This is a huge opportunity for advertisers to seize: working with content producers and influencers can help build awareness for your brand, reach customers you may not have discovered before, and help drive more conversions.

One way to work with these content creators is to leverage a paid placement or product placement campaign. These campaigns can work in a number of different ways and when done correctly can be beneficial to your brand and product line. However, navigating the right ways to work with content publishers on these campaigns can be challenging.

In this article, we’ll teach you some ways you can effectively work with content publishers on product placement campaigns, from identifying which content producers to work with, to how you can foster a long lasting relationship.

Before You Start Working with the Blogger…

1. Start by Researching Bloggers

Say you have a product you want to promote, or you’re looking to generate brand awareness through a product review. A paid product placement is a great way to accomplish that, and bloggers (or content creators in general) are a great resource to help you with that. But before you get started, you’ll want to evaluate who you’re working with. Researching who you’re working with will be critical to understanding who the blogger is and what kind of success they could potentially yield. SimilarWeb is a great, free tool that’s available for advertisers to leverage so they can do some background research on potential bloggers. Using this tool will show the advertiser traffic sources, category rankings, total visits, engagement statistics, and more. Using SimilarWeb you can get a transparent view of who your potential publishing partner will be – and if they’ll be successful in your campaigns.

2. Work with Account Managers and Bloggers to Get Information/Negotiate

Once you’ve done some outside research (or, if you want to start internally), reach out to your Account Manager and starting speaking with the AM’s and bloggers to get information on who the blogger is and what they’re willing to offer for paid placement opportunities. Take a look at what they’re offering and evaluate their potential based on the research you’ve done, and start negotiating.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Move On

If you’re working on brokering a partnership with a publisher for a paid promotion, and the blogger is requesting an amount higher than what you’re uncomfortable with, don’t be afraid to move on. Some common red flags that could warrant you moving on to the next blogger could be if the engagement numbers they report to you don’t match with your other research, or if their numbers are too weak to be asking for the amount they’re asking for.

During Your Work with the Blogger…

4. Set Your Expectations

It’s important to communicate with the blogger about the product or service you’re looking to have a paid placement for. Highlight key points you’d like the blogger to review in their paid placement, and make sure you have clear guidelines. Alternatively, if you’re looking to promote your brand, you can also offer the blogger a gift card with a set amount and let them shop your site and review products they find interesting and relevant to them/their audience.

5. Do NOT Editorialize!

When working with publishers on a product placement, you want your publisher to share their honest opinions about the product or service you’ve set up the placement for. While it’s a very good thing (and even encouraged) to go over some key selling/talking points about the product or service so the publisher can highlight/review those, it is vital that the publisher is also honest in their review. What that means is, as an advertiser, you shouldn’t be trying to sway the opinions expressed by the blogger in their content, or telling them what they can and cannot say. Not only will this defeat the purpose of working with a blogger, it will create distrust with customers and could tarnish the blogger’s reputation.

6. Set Timelines for Bloggers and Yourself

One key to success with paid product placements is keeping a schedule. For example, if you’re promoting a new product and paying for placements around the time the product is hitting shelves, you’ll want to make sure that the publisher gets the product in time to review, they publish the review by a set date to ensure the most amount of exposure, and that you follow up 1-2 weeks after the publication to see how the placement performed.

After Your Work with the Blogger…

7. Use Cross Promotions

Cross promotions are a great way to not only “sweeten the deal” you make with the blogger for the product placement, it’s also a fantastic way to promote the content about your products or services. For example, you can use cross promotions during negotiations by saying “we’ll post links to your blog post and social media account(s) on our social media after the blog is published in exchange for three more social media posts on your end,” which not only boosts the content about your brand even further, it also helps the blogger out. In addition, it’s a great way to foster a lasting relationship with the blogger for future promotions. This is a great tool and best kept in your back pocket during negotiations, but definitely used!

8. Focus on Building Relationships/Developing “Brand Ambassadors”

After the promotion has run and you’ve seen the results, you’ll want to maintain a relationship with the bloggers you work with – assuming the campaign went well. Recognize that if the campaign was a success with certain bloggers it likely means that they know how to reach their audience and get them interested in products you’re offering, which can be fantastic for your brand long term. You may even want to consider making them a Brand Ambassador for you – a title that adds a sense of importance and validity to the blogger and the content they produce.