It’s no secret that social media and websites like BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post and Mashable have changed the way we consume news. Sites like these initially honed in on millennials and the way we consume content to provide concise, digestible digital content catered to our short attention spans. (Of course, now everyone else has jumped on the bandwagon, considering Boomers spend at least 20 hours more per week consuming online content than Millennials and Gen-Xers, but I digress…)
This week, NBC News decided to throw its hat into the ring with the launch of Better, a wellness vertical devoted to helping readers improve their lives. The outlet hopes to stand out from other wellness publications by focusing not only on health and wellness, but taking a holistic approach on how to better oneself.
While NBC News is known for its hard news content, this is actually the outlet’s second unveiling of a completely revamped strategy highlighting a specific, topic-based approach – hoping to land itself somewhere in between Mashable and Vox. Its science and tech site, Mach, launched in November, and NBC plans to launch Think, a vertical for big ideas, later this year.
But why would one of the largest national news companies launch smaller, targeted verticals you ask?
The answer is simple: sponsored content.
Brands are paying big bucks to sponsor content on highly sought-after publications. In this competitive, crowded media market it is nearly impossible to get eyeballs on your brand’s content these days. NBC hopes to create an opportunity for advertisers in a more niche market than some of the larger news sites, like NBC News.
That said, sponsored content isn’t just for media outlets anymore – it’s everywhere, especially on Snapchat. From filters, to featured content, stories and ads, Snapchat is a mecca of sponsored content for brands. We are even seeing other social sites, like Instagram, adopt similar features that help brands achieve increased reach and engagement on their platforms.
Based on the sheer amount of branded content we interact with each day, we can only assume that consumers are open to the idea of sponsored content. Influencers likely play a huge role in this – especially on social media – as consumers develop a deeper level of trust with influencers.
On the other hand, The Digital News Report shared that 43 percent of consumers feel disappointed or deceived when they find out content was sponsored by a brand or company. This can depend on the type of content, and at what point the consumer found out the content was sponsored. For instance, if your brand name is at the top of an article, chances are readers will feel less deceived than finding “sponsored by” at the bottom of what they originally thought was a great story.
At the end of the day, brands want to be where we are – and that’s online. It’ll be interesting to see if NBC’s new verticals sink or swim in the never-ending competition for sponsored content, but with experts in this space helping lead the way – think Mach’s editor David Freeman, who served as the founding editor for the science section of the Huffington Post – it’s likely they will find themselves successful.
What do you think about media companies transforming to meet the needs of sponsored content? Will we will see other large media companies follow suit? Share your thoughts in the comments below!