Jeff Sonderman

Jeff Sonderman is the former deputy executive director of the American Press Institute.

Before joining the American Press Institute in 2013, he was the digital media fellow of The Poynter Institute. His earlier journalism background includes digital news — helping to launch TBD.com, a local digital news startup in Washington, D.C. — and various roles in newspapers, as an award-winning reporter, online editor and metro editor of The Times-Tribune in Scranton, Pa. He was the architect and developer of API’s Metrics for News analytics software that reinvents how publishers use data to inform content strategy. He also edited API’s Need to Know newsletter, and designed API’s Strategy Studies research format for in-depth strategic guidance. And he consulted with publishers on a range of issues related to content strategy, organizational transformation, audience development, newsroom structure and workflows and product management. He graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism.

The definition of ‘sponsored content’

Sponsored content / native advertising appears in many ways. There is no single form, but rather a continuum from banner ads to social media content to large microsites with articles and videos. The fragmented, inconsistent approaches are actually a feature, not a bug — “native” advertising is native to the specific publication or platform it […]

The four business models of sponsored content

There are four distinct models that we’ve seen so far, each with varying levels of involvement from the publisher and brand: Underwriting model: The brand sponsors content attached to normal reporting, or something that the publisher was creating anyway. This model preserves the most editorial independence. The brand is simply paying to have its name […]

Managing risks, maintaining standards and ethics in sponsored content

The resounding consensus we heard from summit participants was that upholding the publisher’s own brand and integrity, and thereby its readers trust, is an important principle. These brands seeking sponsored content partners are coming to publishers not only for their audience size but for their trust and integrity, says Rebecca Davis of Ogilvy. The brands […]

How sponsored content is created

As we noted in our discussion of the four business models for sponsored content, there are varying levels of involvement from the brand and the publisher. In some cases the brand is on its own to produce what it wants to publish. But in many cases someone working for the publisher plays a role. Most […]

How to measure success of sponsored content

Most publishers at our summit said they track all the typical content metrics when measuring the reach of sponsored content — views, unique visitors, time spent, etc. Most also share these metrics with sponsors but guarantee little or no specific results. Publishers that maintain more control over the content seemed to feel more comfortable guaranteeing […]

Unsolved challenges of sponsored content

Even the best experts we gathered for our summit acknowledged some areas where knowledge is missing. Reader impact: For one, it’s difficult to know what readers’ tolerance for and reaction to sponsored content is. For all the talk on many sides about whether credibility is affected, no one knows for sure. More research is needed. […]

Appendix: What specific publishers, brands and analysts are doing with sponsored content

We asked participants in our Thought Leader Summit on sponsored content to give us some specific information via a survey. Here were their responses: Publishers using sponsored content Forbes Mark Howard, chief revenue officer: Q: What does your organization offer in terms of sponsored content / native advertising / content marketing? What is the content […]

How to break away from articles and invent new story forms

As publishing has moved to digital forms, journalists have discovered it is quite possible — and sometimes preferable — to tell a news story without writing an article. But how? The American Press Institute, with the help of Melody Kramer from NPR and Kennedy Elliott from the Washington Post, packed a room at the Online […]

Interview audio: How Americans’ sources of news are changing

API’s deputy director, Jeff Sonderman, talks with KPCC radio host Larry Mantle about how American news consumption is changing and what’s in store for the future of journalism.