How HuffPost, Sleep Number Will Use Each Other's Data in Branded-Content Deal

Sleep Number Has Signed a Multi-Year Deal to Sponsor HuffPost's Sleep Section

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The Huffington Post has signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with Sleep Number.
The Huffington Post has signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with Sleep Number.
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Arianna Huffington has a new example to combat the idea that sleep inhibits productivity. Sleep banked her site, The Huffington Post, its latest branded-content deal.

In April The Huffington Post co-founder and editor in chief visited Horizon Media's New York office to promote her book "Thrive," which touts the importance of sleep and the negative consequences of sleep deprivation. Following an interview with Horizon CEO Bill Koenigsberg that touched on the importance of sleep, the agency exec pitched Ms. Huffington on doing a branded-content deal with Horizon client Sleep Number.

"He had the idea because this is organic to the HuffPost DNA. We launched our first sleep section in 2007," said Ms. Huffington, whose book "The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time" comes out next April.

Now The Huffington Post has relaunched that section with Sleep Number as its exclusive sponsor. As part of the multi-year deal -- HuffPost execs wouldn't say how many years specifically -- the site's branded-content arm, HuffPost Partner Studio, will produce at least an article or video each week for Sleep Number that will appear on the new Sleep & Wellness section.

"It's native advertising but a much more sophisticated model," said Lauri Baker, VP of content partnerships at HuffPost.

The sophisticated part is how HuffPost and Sleep Number will be using each other's data to inform what content HuffPost Partner Studio should produce for the brand and how Sleep Number can advertise to the section's audience, including those reading a HuffPost article while standing outside a rival's store.

For example, HuffPost Partner Studio will be able to use Sleep Number's aggregated Sleep IQ data that tracks customers' sleeping patterns, such as how much time they spend in bed and how much of that time is considered "restful" or "restless." The sensors in Sleep Number's mattresses monitor individuals' presence and movement as well as their average heart rates and breathing rates.

"We can see, with Sleep IQ data, nationwide trends. We can see specific trends about sleep issues and what adjustments [people] can make and how they can improve their sleep quality," said Sleep Number CEO Shelly Ibach, who declined to say how much money the brand is spending on the sponsorship deal.

And Sleep Number will be able to use data from HuffPost and the site's parent company AOL as well as data from third-party companies to get an idea of the types of people checking out the Sleep & Wellness section, including where they are when they're reading that content, in order to target ads. HuffPost and Sleep Number are also looking into using the brand's customer data to figure out the characteristics of the its customers and target ads to people who fit that profile.

"If someone's standing outside of a competitive store, we know we can serve them a Sleep Number ad that's specific to that user based on what they've read and what we know about them," Ms. Baker said.

While HuffPost has created editorial sections for brands before -- such as the "What's Working: Small Business" section sponsored by Goldman Sachs -- the Sleep Number-sponsored section is the first time the site has rejiggered an existing editorial section for a brand, Ms. Baker said, who noted that Sleep Number has no influence over the section's editorial content. That rejiggering mainly meant expanding the section's scope to include wellness and productivity, which is why the section features articles like how to make commuting more tolerable and a listicle about "brutally honest" coffee mugs.

"The primary objective of this partnership is to elevate the importance of sleep to overall health and wellness," Ms. Ibach said.