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June 16, 2014, 10:19 a.m.
Business Models
LINK: news-biz.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   June 16, 2014

Local nonprofit news outlets often reach a disproportionately influential audience, even if it’s typically smaller than the local daily’s. Those facts can make traditional display advertising difficult (without the raw numbers to support anything CPM-driven) but can make native advertising appealing.

Jake Batsell has a post up on his blog examining how a few nonprofits — Voice of San Diego, The Texas Tribune, Southern California Public Radio — are seeing an opportunity in sponsored content. (We’ve written before about the Trib’s approach.) At VOSD:

So last month, San Diego’s pioneering online news startup quietly debuted a native advertising program aimed at fellow nonprofits. The program, called Partner Voices, publishes article-length “partner promos” that are either paid for by the nonprofits themselves, or on their behalf by a corporate sponsor.

The promos, which carry a monthly fee of $1,500, are clearly labeled as sponsored content. Voice of San Diego’s editorial staff has no role in producing them.

“This was our way to approach native advertising in a fresh, new way that we felt was more in line with our mission,” [Mary Walter-Brown, Voice of San Diego’s vice president of advancement and engagement] said.

Walter-Brown said the sponsorship option gives Voice of San Diego a new way to cultivate revenue from corporate clients who want to publicize their support for civic initiatives. For example, she said, San Diego Gas & Electric is sponsoring 12 Partner Voices promos over the course of a year.

“It allows us to go to an organization or a company that might not have been a traditional advertiser before, but present them with a new opportunity to just build their brand and build their community goodwill,” she said.

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