There is a long-believed principle that it is a “no-no” for publishers to pay to distribute their content, even though it’s widely acknowledged that content’s organic reach is declining, particularly in social channels like Facebook. The reasoning is that good content should find an audience on its own.

While that may be true, if you look exclusively through the lens of the editorial side of the business, it’s important to take into account the role content now plays in helping publishers achieve broader business goals, such as justifying advertising rates, attracting new audiences and signing up new subscribers.

Spending money to achieve business goals is not a new concept for publishers. They have a rich history of spending dollars in order to achieve their business goals, such as advertising to market print subscriptions, or search-engine marketing to drive traffic and justify advertising rates. But there is a strong hesitancy to apply the same logic when it comes to paying for content distribution. That perspective, however, doesn’t take into account the digital, sharing world we now live in.

Content has become a valuable currency. It can be used to drive many of the business goals stated earlier. But for that to happen, content needs to get in front of the right people. Not all content will resonate with all people, so it makes sense to distribute each piece to audiences that will help publishers achieve their business goals. The best way to do that is by paying for content distribution to targeted audiences.

Here are three reasons why publishers should pay for content distribution to targeted audience segments:

  1. To increase page views. High page views are important to justifying ad rates. Content can have a significant effect on driving traffic, particularly in social channels, when it’s put in front of the right people. If influential users engage with content, many others get exposed to it and the network effect takes place. So it makes sense to target influential users to drive traffic.
  2. To reach new audiences. Just relying on the organic distribution of content and getting that content in front of those who are already a part of your community (e.g., have “liked” your Facebook page) will do very little to attract new readers. To build new audiences, it’s important to target users who aren’t a part of your community but who may have somehow otherwise expressed an interest in your content’s topic.
  3. To sign up new subscribers. Acquiring new subscribers, particularly for digital offerings, has become an important revenue initiative for many publishers. Certain users have a higher propensity to sign up for subscriptions than others, so targeting such users can lead to the successful acquisition of new subscribers.
    It’s understood why people on the editorial side of a publishing business aren’t fans of paying for content distribution. However, it’s also important to realize the world is different and quality content — if put in front of the right people — can have a serious impact on achieving business goals. For that to happen, effective audience targeting is critical and that requires paying for content distribution.