According to Mashable’s Chief Strategy Officer Adam Ostrow, ever since Mashable began efforts to monetize around 2007, it’s approach of marrying “themes and ideas and topics that are relevant to brands with editorial content on Mashable” has remained a key focus. This synthesis of branded with editorial is now known popularly as native advertising.
Unlike Buzzfeed, whose advertising options only include native partnerships, Mashable still offers standard advertising formats like banner and text ads, but it’s clear that native advertising formats are their top priority for the future, evidenced by their creation of Mashable BrandLab, a division devoted to helping brands create interesting content. Currently, Mashable offers three native advertising formats:
Mashable’s Native Advertising Formats
Branded Content, in which the Mashable editorial team covers a theme or topic that’s relevant to a brand, although the content itself doesn’t mention or hard-sell the brand and its products.
The What’s Inside Series, presented by Qualcomm Snapdragon Processors.
Brand Lift, in which a brand may place its externally-located content, such as social and blog posts, within Mashable feeds in a self-serve format. (“Our lift unit gets 1.5 – 2.5% CTR,” as presented by Adam Ostrow.)
A YouTube video for Grand Theft Auto 5 that appears within Mashable’s central content feed. (Orange rectangle my own.)
- Brand Speak, in which a brand publishes to Mashable and the brand itself, not Mashable’s editorial board, is credited as the author.
A post by The Home Depot about creative DIY home projects.
Mashable’s Native Advertising Excedes Expectations
According to Lauren Drell, Mashable’s Branded Content Editor, “Mashable’s branded content exceeds benchmarks for shares and page views, indicating readers find the content just as or more compelling than any other content on the site. Time spent on branded content is 50% higher than that of the average Mashable article, and CTR on display ads around branded content is 2x that of the average article.”
The Native Ad Leaderboard, a service run by Sharethrough and SimplyReach, “tracks sponsored content produced by brands and publishers and ranks each based on social activity across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other social channels.” The leaderboard may be filtered down to only branded content on Mashable. The 10 most socially engaging branded content pieces are listed below, although unfortunately the leaderboard doesn’t display the paid media budgets associated with these campaigns, which makes it hard to guage how socially viral they actually were.
Most Engaging Mashables Native Advertisements
- 10+ Must-Have Tools for the Connected Professional, sponsored by American Express Open
- 4 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Amplify Content On LinkedIn, sponsored by American Express
- 12 Reasons to Stay Home on Black Friday, sponsored by AIO Wireless
- Startup Light Aims to Give You a Digital Record of Your Life, sponsored by Rackspace
- This 15-Year-Old’s Science Project Will Light Up Your World, sponsored by Lenovo
- 5 Heartwarming Stories That Prove Dog Is Man’s Best Friend, sponsored by Purina
- Star Wars Pancakes: The Real Breakfast of Champions, sponsored by Samsung Galaxy
- How GoPro Created a Billion Dollar Empire, sponsored by Lenovo
- 9 Tips for a Better Company Culture, sponsored by American Express Open Forum
- We’re One Step Closer to Bringing Holograms Home, sponsored by IBM
As explored in an Ad Age article, once the branded content contract that Mashable has established with a sponsor ends, it’s customary for Mashable to remove all mentions of that sponsor from the initially-branded content. This was deemed acceptable by the National Advertising Divsion because Mashable sponsorships are “more akin to an advertisement that [runs] alongside an article for a period of time, rather than content written to further an advertiser’s commercial end.”