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How Whitelisting Editorial Content Can Cut Your CPAs By 40%

RC Williams
ByRC WilliamsJul 14, 2022

What Is Third-Party Content Whitelisting & How Does It Work?

In the post-iOS 14 world, growth marketers now have to put even more consideration into how they’re interacting with customers, how they’re shaping the customer journey, and how they educate them on the products their brands are offering to turn them into long-lasting customers. Third-party whitelisting has been a silver lining, proving resilient as one of the most compelling ways to educate consumers about new products and acquire customers at a lower cost.

Third-party content whitelisting is the practice on paid social platforms of using a third-party voice (for example, a handle on FB/IG) to drive traffic to a piece of authentic, performance-focused editorial content on a third-party publishing site. From here, consumers click through to your brand site. The strategy seamlessly ingrains reputable social proof across all touchpoints in the flow.

Leading DTC brands like MIRROR, Care/of, Athena Club, Prose, and more are investing heavily into the strategy and are cutting their CPAs by 30-40%.

Here’s an example of the flow: 

Third-party content whitelisting is an effective strategy because it has fundamental interest alignment. People use social media to be entertained, learn interesting things, and have fun with their friends. People don’t always go on social media to buy products or shop, even though that’s the motivation most marketers use to design their strategies and campaigns. Additionally, successfully adding in a third-party voice to talk about your brand can create a halo effect, the feeling that “everyone’s talking about you,” helping to build social proof and drive conversions.

Instead of running ads that are hyper-focused on conversion, editorial whitelisting encourages brands to run ads that educate consumers, tell an entertaining story, or share unique value props behind their products in an entertainment-first way. Even though the ads may not initially be conversion-focused, because they engage & educate the consumer, they actually end up having much stronger conversion rates versus branded assets.

Case Studies

Because of how algorithm-friendly highly engaged content is on FB/IG, established publishers and creators have a significant advantage over standard business pages, helping to drive down delivery and performance costs right off the bat.

Here’s a flow comparing the performance of a leading feminine care brand whitelisting with MSA vs. their internal paid social campaigns:

The four main performance improvements can be found in CPM, CTR, CVR, and CPA:

  • CPM: publishers typically have cheaper delivery costs, due to a more engaged audience and high domain authorities
  • CTR: consumers tend to click more frequently on publisher ads, especially when they look and feel native to the publisher’s brand
  • CvR: consumers are much more likely to make a purchase after landing on the brand’s site, having engaged with and learned from the content
  • CPA: Although there are fewer consumers that land on the brand’s site, the higher CvR results in much lower CPAs (typically, 30-40% lower)

Finding The Right Partner For Your Brand

To get the best performance from an editorial whitelisting campaign, having alignment across your entire journey is crucial. This includes selecting the writers or publishers to engage with – the best partnerships start with having shared demographics and interests. A reader of the publisher or follower of the creator should be interested in being a customer of the partner brand. Having this aligned allows the authority of the publisher to have an impact and maximizes the social proof.

The content also needs to align with the publisher’s brand, not the partner’s brand. It’s a third-party review, so naturally, the content should be crafted in that third-party’s tone and voice. The same is true with the creative.

Most importantly and alongside authenticity, ensuring your content is rooted in entertainment and relatability, not necessarily salesmanship is critical for success. The best whitelisted editorials entertain and educate customers each step along the way, asking them to take action where appropriate. To be able to execute with editorial whitelisting, marketers have to be able to blend content marketing practices into their direct response practices.

Where To Get Started

There are a few whitelisting options in the DTC space that are worth considering: GeistM, The Quality Edit, and MSA are the three most successful. Here’s how they compare:

GeistM: GeistM is known for being the biggest player in the editorial whitelisting space and works with a large pool of brands. GeistM has steep minimum monthly prices and does not allow your internal growth team to manage the paid media.

The Quality Edit: TQE is a newer player in the space. They have a highly capable, in-house growth marketing team and work with some of the most reputable DTC brands. TQE’s written content and UGC are high quality and produced by some of the top creators in the DTC space, but their minimum monthly price is also steep like GeistM – they start at $7,500/month.

MSA: MSA works with some of the top DTC brands like Care/of, MIRROR, Athena Club, Prose, and more, and offers these brands access to multiple hosting sites, including an entire pool of creators for whitelisting. MSA’s main site also has a domain authority over 73 and receives hundreds of thousands of monthly unique visits, which offers their partner brands a significant auction price advantage when buying paid media.

MSA allows their partner brands’ growth teams to manage the entire paid media campaign. There is no media spend minimum to work with MSA and their content and creative whitelisting packages start at just $600/month.

MSA’s campaigns are scalable, and take minimum work from the brand - content can be ready to go live within two weeks, with only one 30-min phone call between the teams.

Interested in learning more? Get in touch with MSA’s team here

RC Williams
RC Williams
RC is the newest member of the MSA team and a consumer product fanatic! In his free time, RC loves reviewing health products, discovering new restaurants in Philadelphia and going on long outdoor runs!