Soon a host of publishers will follow the New York Times Co. and allow advertisers to buy specific articles as they are distributed on social networks.
The Times launched the product, called Richochet, last April to let advertisers choose specific articles from a publisher's archive to bind their ads to for a certain duration. The technology then creates a unique URL for the selected articles, which the advertisers can distribute to their social networks.
The idea is to give brands using Ricochet an incentive to distribute articles in social media, and to give publishers a means to earn additional revenue.
Starting in May, a host of outside publishers--including Ad Age, Conde Nast and Time Inc.'s People--will begin using the technology and sharing revenue with the Times, making it the first product from the Times' R&D Ventures group to be made available to other publishers.
"This is an entirely new concept in digital marketing that creates a whole new class of inventory: socially-driven inventory," Michael Zimbalist, VP-research and development operations at The Times Co., said at back in April.
Up to now, advertisers have been able to only access content from NYTimes.com, Boston.com and BostonGlobe.com - all owned by The New York Times Company (for the moment). Starting May 1, advertisers will be able to fix their ads to web articles from Ad Age as well as The New Yorker, Glamour, Wired and other Conde Nast titles. Articles from People will also be available as a part of a Time Inc. pilot.
For advertisers, Richochet campaigns will only be as good as their ability to distribute the individual pieces of content on their own - whether to their followings on social networks or through paid channels such as Outbrain. On the other side, the technology seems like a good deal for publishers: it essentially helps them get paid to let advertisers distribute their work for them.
Individual publishers set their own prices and share the resulting ad revenue with The Times Co., which won't comment on the specific terms of those deals. Each publisher also makes their own rules about which pieces of content an advertiser can bind their ads to. A publisher could decide, for example, that advertisers can't tie their ads to articles about themselves or about their competitors.
Ricochet will be a self-serve marketplace for advertisers by May 1, Mr. Zimbalist said in a brief interview. They'll be able to search the content database by topic, upload their ad creative, choose from different page layouts if a publisher offers them, and set the duration of the campaign.
For now, The Times Co. is focused on working only with "premium content providers," he said. "Over time, as the marketplace grows, it's conceivable that we'll add different niches," he added.