Sponsored content and UK publishers

Sponsored content and UK publishers





Sponsored content and UK publishers


Tony Hallett
Managing director

Tony set up Collective Content in 2011 so brands can more easily become publishers and tell stories. This built on 15 years in media, from reporter to publishing director at Silicon Media Group, CNET Networks and CBS Interactive.

We see that Business Insider is the latest of the big boys in web publishing to include sponsored content among regular editorial. It isn’t ditching ads – it has a nice display advertising business, run by a lean sales team, founder Henry Blodgett told us in a tweet just a few months ago – but it is very much on trend.

Forbes has spoken most about its sponsored approach – ‘AdVoice’ – while others such as HuffPo do it. The Atlantic’s new business publication, Quartz, has the approach baked in from the outset, while BuzzFeed talks a commercial-content-not-ads game convincingly.

We’re not sure the UK market, outside of outposts such as HuffPo UK, gets this shift.

At the AOP Summit last Friday we encountered a spectrum of viewpoints on this.

A B2B publisher told us there is a place for sponsor content if it is good enough and disclosed. (For the record, this is Collective Content’s position too.)

Others were less sure. Some questioned “editorial integrity”. But then some of that sample even questioned it when content comes directly from a brand, for example in a customer magazine, microsite or Facebook page. That left us scratching our heads.

Others were even farther off track. “I had a colleague who went to do something similar at [big PR company],” I was told. No, I don’t think he did. (Though the crossover between PR and commercial content will be a rising trend in itself over coming years.)

This isn’t a summary of the AOP Summit but, based on what was discussed most at the event, it seems clear that for UK publishers – if not the broader group of marketers they sell to – ads and subs are by far still the main priorities.

*photo credit: William Hook via photopin cc

Follow Tony on Twitter – @tphallett