Over just three months, “promoted posts” (native advertising) on NY startup Upworthy have outperformed the site’s standard editorial posts.
Advertising as meaningful posts
Every business development manager in Adland now knows that Upworthy’s speciality is getting visitors to click on enticing headlines and send the content viral by sharing. With 10 million unique visitors in June alone, this NYC startup is certainly going places; and with brand advertising through “promoted posts” putting in such a strong performance, the trajectory is definitely up.
Resembling its NY neighbor BuzzFeed in some respects, Upworthy curates and repackages selected content through cleverly crafted headlines that just beseech you to share them. But as well-informed business development managers will be aware, Upworthy’s distinguishing feature is its emphasis on meaningful posts, as opposed to titillating tittle-tattle or personality quizzes.
Now, that might have posed a problem for those interested in the arts of driving online advertising sales. But three months ago, Unilever became the first big brand to work with Upworthy on its new “Collaborations” program, with a native advertising campaign consisting of promoted posts and curated content to promote the “Project Sunlight” initiative. This aimed at encouraging people to live sustainably in Unilever’s terms, “create a brighter future for children.”
Since then, cleverly crafted promoted content on the site has taken off – like this lively video for Proctor & Gamble’s Cover Girl, headlined “Ellen, Katy Perry, And A Hockey Player Walk Into An Ad And Shatter A Ridiculous Argument.” The brands provide the content, usually a video, and Upworthy’s editors package them with their inimitable headlines, labelling them clearly as ads in the process.
Native’s big success
There’s even a link to an explanation about the site’s use of paid content. Here’s how its chief revenue officer, James Marcus, describes the process in an interview with AdAge:
“We sit down and talk to a brand about what their core value is. We’re looking for that overlap with our audience. We find that and then work backwards. It might be a 12 month engagement with a lot of touch points or something bite-sized.”
According to the startup’s metrics, visitors are socially sharing these posts three times more than standard posts and are spending three times as long viewing them. Business development managers would probably agree that that’s a pretty good result.