Paid Distribution: Best Practices


Paid distribution campaigns are complex. As goals evolve and ad platforms develop, it’s hard not to get caught up in the complexity of the ever-evolving world of ad tech. To put yourself in the best position to run a successful campaign, focusing on the fundamentals is a great place to start.


There are three concepts you should keep in mind above all else:


  1. 10/90 Rule: A very small subset of content and content ads will drive the majority of returns. In general, we’ve found that 10% of content drives 90% of traffic. For example, if you produce 10 articles in a campaign, it is most likely that 1 will drive 90% of traffic to the campaign.
  2. More is better: Not all content will resonate with everyone. Having a large selection of content leads to more opportunities to find articles in your 10% that appeal to target audiences and drive efficiencies.
  3. Flexible distribution: Adjust budgets and shift spend towards what’s working well in the moment to bring down costs. Campaigns with fixed budgets forces spend on non-engaging content or low performing channels, which can drive up costs.


How We Approach Distribution



We recommend defining specific goals for each campaign, rather than on an article by article level. This enables us to flexibly adjust our budgeting to find the content that will best hit your goals. Otherwise, you'll risk spending money at a higher cost to reach goals.


Campaigns budgets should be at least $5,000, spanning multiple channels and content items. We recommend using at least 10% for testing, which is where we find the 10% of content that will drive efficiencies. This also ensures we can generate enough data to make informed decisions.


For budgets below $10,000, we suggest setting campaign lengths to two weeks. Content usually has a short shelf life, so you want to ensure users have an opportunity to be exposed to your content, but not be inundated with ads they don't want to click on. Our data has shown that after around two weeks, engagement starts to drop significantly for content campaigns.


The secret to a good campaign is utilizing a diverse set of channels that align with campaign goals. This enables us to find the channels that are performing well and shift budget towards them, improving campaign efficiency. 


The broader the targeting base, the more opportunity we have to find a niche of highly engaged readers and avoid competition for inventory. Campaign costs are ultimately a function of supply and demand -- so the narrower the targeting, the smaller our supply of audience is, which by definition pushes up the price.