Upworthy, NYT experimenting with new ad formats and revenue models

Digiday | Fast Company | Nieman Journalism Lab


After a dramatic increase in traffic in the last few months, news aggregator Upworthy has begun to experiment with some new advertising models to turn those eyeballs into dollars. Digiday's Josh Sternberg explains:


Upworthy is running an ad program with Skype to distribute advertising videos. For example, here’s a Skype video Upworthy shared of Denis, a man who came to the U.S. from Uganda and couldn’t return. He uses Skype to remain in contact with his family. At the bottom of the post, Upworthy tells its readers the following: “We were paid to promote this ad, but we only do that for things we think are actually Upworthy.”



Upworthy is also selling category sponsorships. For example, in a category of, say, global health, Upworthy would assign a “curator” to find related content, and a sponsor would underwrite that piece of content.


The site started up 14 months ago and now employs five full-time curators and 20 contributors. Its data-driven approach to choosing social content has led some to call it "the fastest growing media site of all time."

Upworthy isn't the only site planning new ad formats; The  New York Times announced Monday it will use some new Idea Lab work to adapt advertising for its iPad app.

  • Joshua Gillin

    Joshua Gillin is a contributor to Poynter's MediaWire blog and a writer, editor and pop culture blogger for the Tampa Bay Times and its sister tabloid, tbt*.

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