NEW YORK: Marketers are becoming increasingly aware of the effectiveness of sponsored content in reaching consumers and are prepared to buy space with the aim of getting their campaigns to go viral, an industry figure has said. 

With sponsored content having the advantage of being less overtly promotional than more direct forms of advertising, some brands have boosted their message by proactively paying for social media distribution.

"You can only get so far through self-promotion," Steve Sachs, chief executive of OneSpot, an ad technology firm, told the Wall Street Journal. "Marketers are realising you also have to pay for distribution," he added.

One of his clients outlined the approach. Spectrum Brands, the diversified consumer products company that owns Remington razors, found that its website had not been attracting enough traffic on its own to draw sufficient attention to its embedded content about Remington products. Also, the company realised its stories were not being shared enough via social media.

So it used OneSpot to buy space on automated exchange platforms for its articles and videos, taking space usually reserved for traditional banner ads.

Ryan Koechel, Spectrum's e-commerce director, explained that by promoting the content on other sites the company was able to reach more of its target audience of female viewers. 

"We can spend a ton of money and put a lot of content on our website, but it just sits there," he said.

Sponsored content is growing at more than twice the rate of traditional banner ads and eMarketer has forecast it to grow 22% this year, generating $1.9bn of ad spending.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff