Sponsored content has come to Facebook Instant Articles: This week, The Washington Post
and The Atlantic both launched branded campaigns there. Facebook had announced support for sponsored content
in Instant Articles back in April, and on Friday the company announced additional editing options so publishers can “visually distinguish branded content from editorial content.”
The Washington Post already puts all of its editorial content on Instant Articles; The Atlantic runs most of its content there.
“We know that our audience is engaging really deeply with our native content on our site,” said Hayley Romer, The Atlantic’s SVP and publisher. “We’ve been pushing Facebook” to add the feature. The Atlantic expects native campaigns to drive 70 percent of its ad revenue this year, up from 60 percent in 2015.
Branded content is rapidly becoming a major contributor of revenue for U.S. news outlets, and American audiences are accepting it. Here’s a chart from the latest Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report, published this past week:
In the same report, New York Times CEO Mark Thompson wrote that the Times’ branded content division, T Brand Studio, now includes 70 staffers and will “deliver more than $50 million in revenue this year,” up from an estimated $35 million in 2014. From Thompson:
Display still has a place, but we believe that the digital advertising of the future will be dominated by stories conceived by advertisers, clearly labelled so they can be distinguished from newsroom journalism, but consumed alongside that journalism on their own merits.