DTN + CMS integration is a winning sponsored content solution for DTN Publishers (and everybody else)

In a blog post late last year, we mentioned DTN had collaborated with Simpleview’s CMS and product teams to develop a seamless integration between DTN and the CMS Collections Module. This integration comes standard with any website design for DMOs who are Simpleview CMS clients and DTN publishers, and can be implemented on existing Simpleview CMS websites for new DTN publishers.

This means sites that run Simpleview CMS Collections can embrace a sponsored content strategy using DTN Paid Content that:

  1. Looks and reads like site content + defends the aesthetic of the site and the integrity of your destination’s visual brand.
  2. Engages the visitor and aids in his/her trip-planning and inspiration journey + increases visitor leads and conversions for the advertiser.
  3. Celebrates the value the DMO is providing to area businesses by offering new opportunities to drive tourism revenue their way.

How visitors engage with paid content

Before we jump in, note that these best practices largely revolve around a few key understandings about how visitors are engaging with our content:

  1. Visitors are increasingly ignoring banner contenta phenomenon called banner blindness — and gravitating towards content that’s presented in a continuous and seamless flow with the rest of the site content, as well as to content that’s relevant to the user’s interests.
  2. Visitors are looking at DMO websites for inspiration on things to do and places to stay and eat during their travels. In fact, Google’s “Travel Customer Journey in 2020” findings report that 95 percent of our visitors look to travel-related sites after booking their trip.
  3. Visitors are looking for trustworthy content. Paid content that adopts the same look, feel and copy tone of the site content (native) will be regarded as more trustworthy. Paid content is 9 percent more trustworthy, according to Outbrain, than display ad formats.

Jumping in — DTN Paid Content Best Practices

  1. Content should adopt the look, feel and tone of the rest of the website content
    As much as possible, sponsored content should flow with other site content at various breakpoints and seamlessly align with the non-sponsored content. For this reason, HTML sponsored content that adopts the site’s CSS styles is preferred. Most of the sites running DTN content repurpose existing CMS Collections widgets for DTN content so the paid content and other content are indistinguishable.
  2. Content should be visitor-focused and highlight a selling proposition that satisfies a need for the visitor
    Content should move focus away from the advertiser’s brand and towards the visitor’s trip-planning/inspiration needs. Placements with ample copy will aid in our efforts to highlight the value proposition in the headline and the advertiser’s business name will be sewn into the body copy in an organic fashion. 
  3. Photography should highlight an experience 
    Photography showcasing people happily engaging with the advertiser’s product/service enables the visitor to envision themselves in that experience. This is true for both content and listings content, actually. The DTN Support Team actively works with advertisers to find compelling photography. This guideline excludes images with a superimposed logo, product shot or, especially, text. 
  4. The landing page should reiterate the content’s ad promise and help to minimize the visitor’s path to purchase
    Our goal with paid content is primarily to create highly qualified leads for the advertiser. DTN Paid Content will work to attract the attention of qualified visitors and entice them to click on the content. When the visitor lands on the advertiser’s website, it’s up to the advertiser’s website to close the deal by reiterating the value promise and leading the visitor quickly to a conversion point. 

Guiding the advertiser through best practices may be a challenge

As many of our advertisers are coming from print advertising experiences in which they can run pretty much whatever they want (as long as it fits the space), a move to a digital program in which the placement formats impose rigid requirements about the imagery and the messaging can be difficult to get accustomed to. In markets where DTN is selling DTN Paid Content, our sales and support teams are actively setting expectations and working with advertisers and their DMO partners to align expectations with the product and DMO requirements.

This is often easier said than done. In some situations, the advertiser will insist that content is executed according to their preferences or in alignment with their brand goals, even though we’ve found that following DTN Paid Content best practices will likely increase visitor engagement and drive more qualified leads.

Finding the balance

In the end, there’s a balance that we need to find: push for great content that will engage the visitor without compromising the happiness of the advertiser and the revenue they’re bringing to the table. This is an important discussion for every team managing a paid content program, and it ultimately boils down to these questions:

  • What are the end goals for your sponsored content?
  • How are we setting expectations with the prospect before signing a contract?
  • And how far are we willing to yield on our goals to avoid losing that revenue?

For DTN programs, the DTN sales team actively explains DTN Paid Content best practices with the advertiser during the advertiser placement explanation. Additionally, the DTN support team expertly navigates conversations about placement requirements and DTN Paid Content best practices with the advertiser during the production process, often assisting in the copywriting and search for compelling photography.

These conversations are often successful in helping meet our DTN best practices guidelines, which engage the visitor and create quality leads. Not only does this make the advertiser happy, but it also maintains the site’s aesthetic and the destination’s brand. 

Stay tuned for more insights

In the coming months, we’ll be unfolding these best practices one at a time. These posts will highlight real-world success stories and data insights that not only show the effectiveness of the DTN Paid Content best practices, but also demonstrate insights learned on our journey. Watch for updates in the Simpleview and DTN blogs, and on DTN’s LinkedIn page.