In the latest twist in the rapid evolution of online content marketing, a new platform will add a fourth term to Madison Avenue’s Holy Trinity of paid, earned and owned: appropriated. The new platform enables marketers to sort through the torrent of so-called “expert” content -- stories written by professional journalists or bona fide bloggers -- about their brands, filter them based on sentiment, and then automatically feed the most positive ones into their own paid advertising.
While the concept of feeding professional, third-party content into ads is not entirely new, the new platform -- dubbed inPowered -- accelerates the speed, scale, and ease of doing it in a way that will further blur the line between advertising and editorial content.
“It’s expert media being distributed by paid media,” says Peyman Nilforoush, CEO and co-founder with his brother Pirouz, who serves as president of inPowered. In other words, Nilforoush says, advertisers can use the platform to quickly find what professional journalists are saying about their brands and “amplify it” by putting their own advertising dollars behind distributing the most positive stories.
The brothers -- who co-founded and continue to operate NetShelter, a network of technology-focused blogs that also uses expert content to promote brands in a conventional way via display advertising -- say inPowered is the next logical progression for brands and consumers alike.
And they are backed up by new research they commissioned online ad effectiveness researcher Marketing Evolution to conduct, which shows dramatic increases in a brand’s “KPIs,” or key performance indicators, when they pull expert content as a form of third-party endorsement into their own ads.
To a certain extent, the Nilforoushes say the concept is as old as ads for movies or TV shows that republish positive headlines, clips and sound bites from professional critics, but with speed and scale that can be used for brands in any category.
During a preview for Online Media Daily, the brothers showed a live example for Samsung, a beta customer of inPowered, that sourced thousands of “expert” reviews of its “smart TV” products on-the-fly and in real-time via an easy-to-use, self-serve dashboard that is the command center for inPowered. The platform then filters the content for “positive” sentiment and enables brands to place it directly into two “paid” formats: conventional display ads distributed across inPowered’s advertising network of contextually relevant publishers, or so-called “native” formats that look just like the editorial content of some of those publications.
The mix and budget are up to advertisers and agencies to manage, and the brothers say they will only be charged based on content that is actually “consumed” by consumers, not just served into an ad on a Web page. As a result, they are charging a hefty premium of $5-per-user, or a CPM of $5,000, making it one of the priciest media buys ever.
“But it’s based on a consumption versus an impression,” explains Peyman Nilforoush, adding: “It gives advertisers the ability to take the stories that are already generating positive impressions for them, and put their own money behind giving them greater distribution.”
While inPowered was conceived to “amplify” the weight of positive editorial coverage, the brothers acknowledged that there is nothing to stop brands from utilizing it the opposite way, by identifying negative stories about their competitor’s brands and utilizing their own ad budgets to amplify those impressions -- a concept known as “conquesting.”
“Technically, there’s no reason why you couldn’t do that,” acknowledged Pirouz Nilforoush, adding, however, that it was not the intent or spirit in which the platform was developed.