Washington Post introduces sponsored content

Digiday | Washington Post
Josh Sternberg reported Monday that The Washington Post would introduce sponsored content this morning in an effort to reverse declining revenue for the news organization:

WaPo tomorrow plans to launch “BrandConnect” that will let marketers create content throughout the WaPo site and on its homepage. It’s kind of like Forbes’ BrandVoice, which lets brands post on the Forbes platform. CTIA, the wireless trade association, is the inaugural advertiser and will create content through blog posts, videos and infographics, according to a rep. The Post did not provide specifics on exact nature of the content or how long it would run. …

WaPo is taking a middle-ground approach to the creation of the content. A rep said in some cases marketers would create it, but the publisher would also offer services via its advertiser team. Editorial resources will not be used. The spokesperson also wouldn’t give specifics as to how, exactly, brands will be able to post content. Many publishers running sponsored content brag that the secret sauce is allowing advertisers the same tools as editors get. It’s unclear if the Post will go this far.

The “Brand Connect” section appears on the site’s homepage, with a label that says “Sponsor Generated Content” and a link to information about the arrangement:

BrandConnect» is a platform that connects marketers with the Washington Post audience in a trusted environment. Each BrandConnect» is developed and written by the marketer. The Washington Post Newsroom is not involved in the development of BrandConnect» content.

The first client is nonprofit trade group CTIA, which represents wireless communications companies. The content carries the byline of John Walls, Vice President of Public Affairs for CTIA.

The Washington Post introduced sponsored content on its website Tuesday.

Sponsored content has been a source of revenue and controversy for The Atlantic and BuzzFeed.

The challenges related to publishing sponsored content would almost certainly be a topic addressed by The Washington Post ombudsperson — except the paper eliminated that position last week.

Related: How news organizations can sell sponsored content without lowering their standards

Press release:

The Washington Post Launches “BrandConnect” for Marketers, Available on WP Homepage

CTIA-The Wireless Association is the First Featured Advertiser

WASHINGTON—March 5, 2013—The Washington Post today introduces “BrandConnect,” which allows marketers to offer content to Washington Post users and feature it on The Post’s homepage and throughout the site. CTIA-The Wireless Association™ is the first advertiser to take advantage of this new marketing solution.

“With BrandConnect, marketers become the content creators and get premium placement throughout our site. We are excited to create a way for marketers to create enhanced visibility, while maintaining our position as a trusted source for content of all kinds,” said Steve Hills, President and General Manager of The Washington Post.

Added John Walls, CTIA Vice-President, Public Affairs, “We believe BrandConnect will help us better connect with relevant and important audiences and will be an effective supplement to standard ad placements for our ‘Wireless is Limitless’ campaign. The new format gives us a lot of flexibility and opportunity to reach users in a unique and meaningful way to educate them on the topics of interest with the wireless industry.”

As the first participant of BrandConnect, CTIA will provide weekly content through blog posts, video case studies, and infographics related to wireless communication.

BrandConnect will be clearly labeled as advertising, and The Washington Post newsroom is not involved in the development. To visit BrandConnect, see the left column of The Washington Post’s homepage or go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/brand-connect/wp/2013/03/01/mobile-revving-up-rural-economies/.

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  • crabby_Hallie

    “a platform that connects marketers with the Washington Post audience in a trusted environment” — Who would trust it now? That makes little difference to me because I’m not a WaPo reader, but I’m also curious to know who is dumb enough to click on this kind of “content.” I don’t ever read it and I don’t think anyone I know does. Certainly not intentionally. Is there a real benefit in it for the advertisers? I’m sure it doesn’t matter to them whether the readers have the brainpower of fleas or what, so long as they have purchasing power, but do people really go out and buy stuff after seeing it mentioned in some sleazy sponsored “content”?

  • canardnoir

    And that’s different from what they’ve been publishing in part because?

    They’ve just come out-of-the-newspaper’s closet and will now shakedown those who previously have received free ink!