Business Insider is planning to host more content sponsored by advertisers, including slide shows, videos, and possibly even branded blogs, reports Jason Del Ray for AdAge.
Pete Spande, who was appointed Business Insider’s first Chief Revenue Officer in March, is leading the initiative, known as “Brand Insider,” which he says will allow companies to place content that they have already created but that may be languishing in some quiet corner of the web beside the site's editorial content, and get it noticed by Business Insider's growing base of share-happy users.
“We're able to give brands the spotlight to get that content seen by a large audience,” Spande tells AdAge.
Business Insider’s Chief Operational Officer Julie Hansen senses good revenue prospects in sponsored content, and hopes that “in a couple year’s time” it will make up half of the site’s total revenue. “That would be great,” she said.
The site already runs ad-sponsored videos, and its audience appears to be biting: a video sponsored by Jack Daniel’s that Del Ray likens to “a rather bland commercial” and calls “downright dull compared to most Business Insider posts” has been shared over 100 times since it was posted in mid-September.
Like existing videos, the slide shows and possible blogs (the deal is not closed, but these would be hosted in subdomains within the site and feature both branded and editorial content, according to Del Ray) will be marked as 'sponsored' to avoid misleading users.
Still, sponsored content can be considered an ethically ambiguous way of generating revenue, particularly if not labelled clearly enough, and it must be handled with caution.
What do you think - is sponsored content a great revenue idea, or does it compromise the ethics of a publication? Let us know in the comments.