At some point, you've probably come across a post from Upworthy, the publisher known for its emotional stories that make readers feel pumped up about the world. While this tactic has been shown to work for editorial articles—and has drawn guest curators like George Takei and Michelle Obama—the viral purveyors claim it can also change people's opinions about a company. And it's got the attention of clients Unilever, Gap, Pantene and Target.
"We wanted to bring that same exact experience on our site to our client," Upworthy's CRO James Marcus explained. "We didn't want them to put a banner ad near that experience. We wanted them to have that same experience."
Upworthy's advertising package, the Upworthy Collaborations program, is a "strategic bundle" of digital media methods that it knows works for its readership. The company claims that on average, brand content gets 3.5 times more overall views and 2.9 times more attention-minutes above the site average. In addition, these sponsored materials get three times as many social shares. And, according to Marcus, the company is seeing a 50 percent to 100 percent lift from topline brand awareness—and a 15 percent to 25 percent increase in positive associations with the brand.
Josh Luger, Upworthy director of revenue and business development, explained that brands come to them with their content or decide to sponsor a topic or section. It then uses its magic touch to make sure the message is packaged to drive the most engagement. For the Unilever Project Sunlight campaign—which began in May and was expanded in September—it created a hub and curated social media chat called an #UpChat to promote the content. In total, it delivered tens of millions pageviews and more than 100 million timeline deliveries during the #UpChat session alone.
"What we're doing is really leveraging what we do best on a daily basis, and doing that when we work with advertisers," Luger explained.