Paid Video Distribution: Why You Need It and How to Use It

You got through your production cycle and created a spectacular video, but your video production process isn’t quite over. What do you do with the video you’ve made? The answer, of course, is to distribute it! But distribution doesn’t just mean broadcasting it to a local cable station or sharing it with your Facebook followers. There are tons of distribution channels to help you distribute your video, and it’s up to you to decide which one makes the most sense for your brand.

In the world of marketing, distribution channels get broken down into three categories: owned distribution, earned distribution, and paid distribution. Owned distribution is when you share via your own channels, like blasting your video out on your own website, social media, or email lists. Earned distribution is often thought of as press, and it includes things like getting your video featured in a big tech blog or picked up as part of a big cable news story.

Then, there’s paid distribution. Paid distribution is perfect when you’ve reached the limits of your owned and earned sources, and you need to push your video out to a new audience.

What Is Paid Distribution?

Paid distribution occurs when you distribute your content on a paid advertising channel. For example, a brand with a commercial in a national TV spot during the Super Bowl is one type of paid advertising, and a boosted post on Facebook is another.

Most platforms and websites use some form of paid distribution; it’s how we as consumers are able to access their content for free. And it’s also why so many websites put up anti-ad blockers on their pages—because the revenue they get from paid advertising is their bread and butter.

Paid distribution is a broad category to cover. But to start, does your brand even need paid distribution? After all, we mentioned owned and earned sources earlier, so couldn’t you just stick to those? The short answer is that you could…but it’s not that simple. You might be missing out on incredible opportunities to boost brand awareness or increase conversions.

One note before we go any further: your options for content distribution are not mutually exclusive, meaning that you can (and probably should) include owned, earned, and paid channels in your overall distribution strategy. Each type of channel has its own pros and cons, and including all three tends to round out an overall strategy to take advantage of the best elements of each option. That being said, let’s dive into everything you need to know as you make your distribution choices. 

Why Do I Need to Pay To Distribute My Video?

When it comes to attracting new audiences with your video content, there’s no better avenue for reaching the right demographic than through paid advertising. It’s crucial for honing in on a specific audience demographic thanks to built-in targeting tools, which are available on virtually every distribution platform.

Using demographic tools like search engine optimization or demographic targeting on Facebook or LinkedIn, you’re able to promote your video to the exact audience you’re looking to attract. This is especially valuable if you have a niche product or operate in a niche industry where your consumers fall into narrow target audiences that you can target intentionally on paid platforms. 

However, the cost can be a major barrier to entry. Luckily, most advertising platforms offer flexibility based on how much you’re willing to pay and how many people you want to reach. Typically, you’ll have the option to set a budget that works for your financial standing. The only caveat is that, understandably, your video’s reach will be closely correlated to the budget you set. The more you spend, the more eyes on your content.

Ultimately, paid sources typically end up paying off—often increasing your video’s views when you first release it, then boosting its reach after your owned audience has already watched and shared it. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common channels for paid distribution for those who choose this tactic. 

Paid Distribution Sources

Social Media Ads

Social media ads, including ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and LinkedIn, are one of the most powerful types of paid distribution you can use to promote your video. Take advantage of each platform’s unique ad-targeting features, like boosting posts to users who like similar content, or promoting posts to specific demographics based on their job titles and income levels.

Each social media platform has its own best practices and unique features, so if you have some wiggle room on your budget, experiment with all of them. However, if you need to limit yourself, the platform that will likely give you the most success is Facebook, as 95.8 percent of social media managers surveyed said Facebook ads gave them the best ROI of any social platform.

What video to use:

Promote commercials and promos via Facebook and Instagram ads to attract new audiences. Use testimonials or day in the life videos in boosted posts to engage your social traffic on Facebook or LinkedIn. Try customer spotlights or product reviews to re-target and nurture your prospects with ads across all social networks. Promote tutorial or FAQ videos to delight current customers who visit your socials after purchasing.

Search Ads

Search ads function around the use of keyword targeting. Though they don’t directly improve your long-term SEO status, they do help your brand stand out from the rest by ranking your ad above organic (non-paid) results. In other words—it’s a quick fix that temporarily places you above the companies that have the best SEO results for each keyword you bid on. Paid search ads can be especially effective in conjunction with SEO efforts. Like the logic for combining owned, earned, and paid distribution channels, targeting both paid search ads and organic SEO results helps to ensure that you’re positioned well in as many situations as possible. 

Google’s Adwords program uses keywords to show text-based search ads to anyone who types in a specific series of keywords into a Google search. This isn’t just limited to words, however — Google can also use graphic display ads, YouTube Video ads, or in-app mobile ads to target the same keywords and searches across any type of medium. When promoting your video, using a YouTube video ad (like pre-roll ads) would be ideal.

What video to use:

With search ads, you want to promote videos that relate to common searches, or problems, potential customers might have. Try an educational video targeting a longtail keyword. Or promote a before and after video that shows your product or service in action. Take a second to think through what a prospective customer might be thinking and experiencing when they type in their search term, and then give them a video that meets their needs at that moment. 

Sponsored Content

Sponsored content might read like a traditional blog post or news article, but is paid for by a company to promote a specific brand. This is a great way to get featured on a blog or website with a lot of traffic and is often a better choice than earned media. Why? Because you can control details like what the content is, how long it’s featured on a website, and which specific links or calls to action to include. Just write a post that prominently features your video, then pay to have it sponsored.

What video to use:

Avoid using overtly promotional video in your sponsored content. Instead, try a customer spotlight video to highlight another company, what they do, and how they were able to solve a pain point by using your product. Or create a video series about a topic your potential customers care about. Similar to paid search content, you’ll have the most success with this channel if you take some time to think about what your viewer is experiencing when they land on the page housing your video. 

Influencer Outreach

Influencer marketing describes working with a social media “influencer” (an account or personality with a lot of followers) to promote a specific product or company. By paying or partnering with an influencer to promote your video, you tap into their audience directly by getting your video featured on their channel. Or better yet, you work with them to create a video that more naturally features your product.

What video to use:

Because influencer outreach often involves working with the influencer directly, you might want to tailor your video to the style of the individual influencer. Try using a promo video, a before and after video where the influencer tries your product and demonstrates the results or a testimonial video where the influencer tells their audience why they chose to work with you and what they think about your product.

Native Advertising

A more traditional paid distribution channel, native advertising embeds your ads onto a third party website, either as part of a full article, snippet, link, banner, or thumbnail. Using a native ad platform like Outbrain or Taboola can syndicate your video content across hundreds or thousands of websites at one time, all related by content. If your video is promoting a health product, for example, native advertising will host your video on third party health and fitness blogs around the web, using the same sponsored link.

What video to use:

Try a tips and tricks video to attract users to your brand’s website for more info. Or try a brand video to promote your company’s aesthetic and mission statement. Industry videos also work very well for native advertising, so try promoting one that can be used on industry websites and publications.

How Best to Use Paid Distribution (Especially on a Budget)

Chances are, you’re not made of money. That’s why it’s important to be careful in deciding how to spend your paid distribution budget. After all, virtually every popular website, social media network, and search engine has gotten good at monetizing access to their traffic.

1. Assess your goal.

Before creating any type of video, at Lemonlight, we start by assessing our client’s marketing goals. From there, we can align the creation of any video content with their goal, ensuring a cohesive strategy throughout the marketing funnel. Before you begin to promote your video with paid distribution, decide what stage of the marketing funnel you’re targeting. If you’re not sure, learn more about the marketing funnel here.

2. Pick the channel that best fits your goals.

After establishing your goal, it’s time to pick the right channel. Here’s how we break it down.

Attract: All channels. Social media ads, search ads, sponsored content, influencer outreach, and native advertising are all great ways to get the word out, and by using paid advertising to promote your video, you can dramatically increase your traffic conversions.

Engage: Social media ads, sponsored content, and influencer outreach. Use the advertising tools on social media networks to boost posts and increase your reach. Then, you can repurpose any sponsored content or influencer outreach on your website.

Nurture: Sponsored content, native ads, and influencer outreach. You want to focus on paid distribution that adds value, so providing third party sources like influencers and sponsored content is particularly useful here, especially for sharing and promoting in your email marketing efforts.  

Delight: Social media and search ads. Once you’ve made your sale, it’s all about staying top of mind. Use social media ads to stay on your customers’ radar and promote posts that keep them interested in your brand, even after they’ve got your product or service. Plus, search ads are great for getting these users to keep coming back to you.

Paid Video Distirbution and deciding what channel is best for you

3. Follow these best practices.

You’ve picked your goal and your channel. Now what? Each individual paid distribution channel is going to work differently, so go directly to the source to learn how to use each service. Here are a few quick tips we’ve collected to help get you started.


  • Take advantage of the first few seconds. Be as attention-grabbing as possible. Your videos will autoplay on most social networking sites.
  • Focus your ads on a specific audience segment, not just the most views or clicks possible, and optimize based on your specific marketing goal.
  • Keep it short, especially on social media. We recommend videos between 15 and 60 seconds long for social ads.
  • Use Facebook, whether you’re on a budget or not. Facebook has some of the best targeting features and a massive user-base. 


  • Ignore mobile optimization. Always test your ads before pushing them live. Test your audio and always test them without sound, as most mobile viewers watch video content on mute.
  • Forget about Twitter and LinkedIn. Promoted tweets can target followers of similar accounts to your company, and LinkedIn can target potential customers by job title, seniority, or keyword.
  • Overlook the copy that goes with videos. Most people will read both the header and subheader copy for added context. Make sure the overall effect is cohesive and gives people useful information.
  • Try to fit everything in one ad. Try multiple different videos promoting different aspects of your product or services and see how they perform with your target audience. Packing multiple concepts into one video just gets confusing for the viewer.

Paid distribution is all about testing, recording the results, and adjusting accordingly, which means there’s a lot of trial and error. This can be tough on a budget, so make sure you start with a small test group and a small spend and work your way up from there. Then, increase your spend when you find a combination that’s cost-effective and leads to the most conversions for your brand. If you need more help, be sure to check out our full video advertising and distribution guide.

Grant Harvey

Grant Harvey