Forbes’ brand collaboration hits 60 million page views

By Alvin Lim




Does it sound too good to be true that you can get paid to publish free content and yet not compromise your editorial integrity?

Maybe so in the traditional newsroom, but this is a reality now in the new-age newsroom. We are not talking about just little-known or semi-famous blogs and small Web sites that are doing this, but the big boys, too.

Partnering with a variety of brands has helped Forbes financially and given credibility to those brand partners.
Partnering with a variety of brands has helped Forbes financially and given credibility to those brand partners.

This isn’t even about “content marketing” or “advertorials,” where the publisher would still need to churn out the editorial content on behalf of brands. What we’re talking about is brands creating the content themselves and publishing it on your platform while paying you, the news publisher, for the rights to do so.

Actually, this isn’t that revolutionary if you think about it another way: In recent years, many big brands including the likes of automobile giant, Toyota, have set up their own content department to come out with their own brand stories to publish across their own media assets and social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube.

After all, who understands your brand better than your own employees?

Now, stretching beyond owned social media platforms, brands are publishing directly onto established media sites as well.

One good example is Forbes’ BrandVoice. Mark Howard, Forbes’ revenue chief, shared the following insights about BrandVoice in an interview

“(BrandVoice is) the labelling that we use to indicate to the reader that it’s content coming from the brand. Prepended to the headline of the article is the name of the company and voice, so ‘SAP Voice’ or ‘Samsung Voice,’ for instance.

We started in 2010, but it wasn’t until 2012 that the industry caught on to the idea of native advertising. We created a unique proposition. A brand will commit to a minimum of four months’ content, and we teach them to use our CMS (content management system) tools, so they can publish content directly into the CMS.

They pay a flat fee of US$75,000 a month to be able to do that. What most publishers are doing today is offering their own creative services to create posts for brands.

It’s a differentiated model, but it’s one that has grown very rapidly. Around July last year, we announced our 100th brand that has participated in BrandVoice. We’ve had 7,000 posts from our BrandVoice partners, and have had more than 60 million page views on BrandVoice content.”

It’s pretty brilliant, actually.

Take a look at SAP’s BrandVoice on Forbes. Forbes’ editorial integrity is preserved, as the content is clearly marked as content from SAP.

Yet at the same time, SAP is able to leverage on Forbes’ branding when sharing the content published on Forbes across social media platforms and also reaching out to existing Forbes’ readers.

In this day and age, I think the audience is pretty sophisticated. We do not inherently distrust brand voices, but we want the transparency to know if it’s sponsored content.

What do you think of such a collaborative model between publishers and brands? Is it something that your publication will undertake?

About Alvin Lim

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