Digitas And HuffPost Attempt ‘Real-Time’ Native Ads

Digitas HuffPo NewfrontAt yesterday’s Digitas NewFront, Huffington Post executives said they would offer their native advertising content distribution system exclusively to the Publicis Groupe interactive shop’s clients.

While billed as “real-time,” the self-serve content system will post marketers’ content within a two-hour window of receiving the request. “We’re bringing our year-old BrandLive service to HuffPost that will allow us to circumvent the usual ad buying and trafficking process to publish ‘Sponsored Stories’ on the site,” said Tony Weisman, CEO of Digitas North America, referring to the company’s “brand newsroom” service on stage at the NewFront with Arianna Huffington, chair, president and editor-in-chief of Aol’s Huffington Post Media Group.

But aren’t native advertising and real-time – even if we allow for a two-hour lag – generally considered mutually exclusive marketing pursuits? Not so, said Travis Donovan, Huffington Post’s executive products editor.

“More than ever, we see that brands want…to respond and react and reach a specific audience in real-time,” Donovan told AdExchanger following the presentation. “This is for brands that want to be relevant within the moment. I don’t think any other publication – with the kind of mass audience that Huffington Post has – ever made it so easy to do that until now.”

Donovan declined to venture a guess as to when a marketer might want to avail itself of a quick sponsored post, saying Digitas and its clients will make that determination. The value of this system is not necessarily an extreme, spontaneous need to get a message out quickly but rather to skip the cumbersome process of putting a native ad through the same media buying process as a creative spot, Donovan said.

Digitas marketers who want to try the system must fill out a simple, password-protected online form detailing where they want the content to run and for how long. The content creation is all on the marketer or agency side; HuffPost doesn’t touch it, Donovan noted. Marketers can also decide the duration of the content as well as how it looks to a certain extent, though the submissions will look similar to a regular HuffPost editorial product, albeit one labeled “branded content.”

“This is pretty similar to the sponsored content that we’ve done for years,” Donovan said. “The difference here is that it doesn’t have to be hosted in our HuffPost ‘skin.’ Plus, as with our Branded Partnerships program, we try teach brands what kinds of things click with our audience. That education will also be available for this new tool.”


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