With the Newspack Sponsors plugin, you can create sponsors and associate them with posts, categories and tags to give sponsored or underwritten content a special visual treatment.
Setting up Newspack Sponsors
At this time, Newspack Sponsors is in early release stages, so it’s not configurable from the Newspack dashboard. Instead, follow these steps below to set up the plugin:
- Navigate to Dashboard > Plugins. You should see a Newspack Sponsors row in the table:
- Click Install, then Activate after installation is complete.
- Navigate to Dashboard > Sponsors > Settings. Here you’ll find several settings that will allow you to enter default copy to be displayed with every sponsor.
- All settings are optional. If any fields here are left empty, placeholder defaults will be used.
- This copy can also be overwritten for each sponsor. See below for more info.
- Navigate to Dashboard > Appearance > Customize > Sponsored Content to change the color of the label that highlights your sponsored content. This color should stand out from your site’s regular color scheme.
Once you’ve activated the plugin, you can start creating sponsors.
- Navigate to Dashboard > Sponsors > Add New. This is where you will enter information about your sponsor.
- This screen should look familiar, but includes several fields that exist only for sponsors. Expand the Sponsor Settings panel in the sidebar to see and edit these. Here’s a brief breakdown of the fields you’ll see here:
- Title: This is the name of your sponsor.
- Sponsorship Scope: Whether content associated with this sponsor will be rendered with the “native” or “underwritten” design. See below for more info on native vs. underwritten content.
- Sponsor URL: A URL to link to for this sponsor. This will be used to link to from any sponsor attributions, the “learn more” link shown with single posts, and the sponsor logo image.
- Sponsor Flag Override: This copy appears in a colored label alongside sponsored content, in lieu of a category tag. Entering text here will override the site-wide defaults set in Dashboard > Sponsors > Settings.
- Sponsor Disclaimer Override: This copy appears in a toggleable tooltip to explain the sponsorship to readers. Entering text here will override the site-wide defaults set in Dashboard > Sponsors > Settings.
- Sponsor Byline Prefix: This copy appears as part of the attribution that appears in lieu of an author byline. Entering text here will override the site-wide defaults set in Dashboard > Sponsors > Settings.
- Show on posts only if a direct sponsor? This toggle setting dictates whether the sponsor will be shown on single posts, when the sponsor is applied to a category or tag. If disabled (default), the sponsor’s info will appear on all single posts that share a category or tag associated with the sponsor. If enabled, the sponsor’s info will only appear on the archive pages for the categories and tags associated with the sponsor, but not any single posts unless assigned directly to a post (see below for more info on direct sponsors).
- Expand the Categories and Tags panels. These panels let you associate the sponsor with zero or more categories and tags. If you select categories or tags here, the sponsor’s info will be shown on the archive pages for those categories, and all single posts that are assigned those categories and tags, if the Show on posts only if a direct sponsor? setting is disabled.
- Expand the Sponsor logo field. This field lets you add or select an image from the Media Library to represent the sponsor. It will be shown alongside the sponsor’s info wherever it appears, and will be linked to the Sponsor URL.
- Click Publish or Update to save your changes. Sponsors must be in a published state in order to be used.
As we saw above, you can assign categories and tags to a sponsor within the sponsor editor screen to associate the sponsor with editorial verticals (and optionally all posts within them).
You can also assign sponsors to specific posts. This is known as a direct sponsorship. Posts that are assigned a direct sponsor will always display the sponsor’s info.
To assign a direct sponsor to a post:
- Go to Dashboard > Posts > All Posts and find the post you want to edit (or create a new post).
- In the block editor for the post, find and expand the Sponsors sidebar panel. Here you’ll see all published sponsors:
- Select one or more sponsors to assign those sponsors as direct sponsors to the post. Save the post to apply your changes.
Where does sponsor info appear?
Once you’ve published a sponsor and assigned it to a category, tag, or post, where and how does it appear on the site?
- In single post listings on the homepage, archive pages of non-sponsored categories and tags, and search result pages, if the post has a direct sponsor, or if it belongs to a sponsored category or tag and the category/tag sponsor has disabled the Show on posts only if a direct sponsor? setting:
- On the archive pages of sponsored categories and tags:
- In single posts, if the post has a direct sponsor, or if it belongs to a sponsored category or tag and the category/tag sponsor has disabled the Show on posts only if a direct sponsor? setting:
Note that if more than one sponsor is assigned to a post, sponsor info and logos for all sponsors will appear with the content. However, only the disclaimer and flag for the first assigned sponsor will be shown.
Also note that Newspack Sponsors requires the use of a Newspack theme in order for sponsor info to be shown. You are welcome to use the plugin and its helper functions to build your own integrations with other themes, if you choose.
Native vs. underwritten content
Newspack Sponsors offers two different visual treatments to distinguish between native vs. underwritten content. The difference between native and underwritten content is purely visual at this time, so publishers can use either or both as needed for their own media kits.
For the purposes of this plugin, we have defined native vs. underwritten content as follows:
Native sponsored content is authored by a third party. The creation and production of the content happens separately from editorial content, without the involvement of editorial staff. This is the “default” sponsorship type in Newspack Sponsors. The screenshots above illustrate the native sponsored content experience.
Underwritten content is authored by editorial staff, but its production is paid for by a third party. This often allows publishers to monetize editorial content while maintaining some degree of editorial control over the content itself.
When designating a sponsor’s sponsorship scope setting as underwritten content, the sponsor will behave slightly differently than default, native sponsors:
- Underwriter information will never appear alongside single post listings on the homepage, archive, or search pages. Underwriter information may still appear on archive pages for specific categories and tags they’re associated with.
- Flag, byline, and disclaimer copy will not be shown for underwriters.
- Underwriter information will appear as a single block at the top of the underwritten content, like so:
A sponsor can be changed from native sponsor to underwriter (or vice versa) at any time, and all applicable content will be updated visually upon changing the setting.
This change can be made on the sponsor’s setup screen at Dashboard > Sponsors.
This is just the beginning for Newspack Sponsors. We have several planned features slated for future development. Please let us know if you’d like to request additional features or report bugs.
- Sponsor editor user role: Sponsor editor user accounts can be created for third-party sponsors, so that sponsor editors can create and edit their own info as well as their own native sponsored content without having access to editorial content.
- Ad integrations: Suppress or limit ads on sponsored pages, or designate only certain ad tags to appear with sponsored content.
- Additional customization options: Customize the appearance of sponsor info and sponsored content with additional design elements.