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Upfronts / Newfronts

Huffington Post Brings Rapid-Response Native Ads to the Homepage

Twitter and Taco Bell Also Speak at Digitas NewFront

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Digitas is bringing real-time native advertising to The Huffington Post.

The Digitas NewFront on Thursday
The Digitas NewFront on Thursday

The partnership, described by Huffington Post Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington at Digitas's NewFront presentation on Thursday, will allow Digitas clients to quickly post content on the Huffington Post homepage. The NewFronts are digital publishers' effort to win more ad dollars, typically from TV budgets, by imitating the TV industry's annual upfront presentations to ad buyers.

The deal, which is exclusive to Digitas, is an intersection of two trends: digital agencies establishing "newsrooms" that create branded content under tight deadlines and online publishers looking to "native" ad formats that are pricier and more prominent than traditional display ads.

In practice the arrangement links HuffPo's new Brand as Newsroom platform and Digitas's "brand newsroom," which it calls BrandLive. Travis Donovan, Huffington Post's executive products editor, said the partnership will allow brands to submit branded content and have it published in just two hours, maximizing their chances of jumping on a new subject while it's hot. Stories will range from "Twitter length" text to slideshows to longer videos.

Content will be created by either brands themselves or BrandLive's creative team and run in a module on HuffPo's homepage with an orange "Partner Content" label.

In a decidedly meta moment in the Newfront presentation, a camera crew filmed Mr. Donovan pointing to the Partner Content module as it hosted a live stream of the NewFront presentation.

Among other presenters at Digitas's NewFront, which brought together speakers from a variety of companies, Twitter President of Global Revenue Adam Bain said his company's goal was to work with TV to grow both platforms simultaneously.

"Twitter is a bridge," he said. "A combination of the big screen and mobile ultimately is going to lead not just TV farther, but digital farther."

Twitter is increasingly becoming a video distribution platform, with the popularity of Vine videos only one aspect, Mr. Bain added. Last month the company signed a pact with BBC America to serve video clips that can appear in users' Twitter feeds when they click.

Taco Bell used the Digitas NewFront to announce plans for a "crowdsourced rockumentary" about indie rock superstars Passion Pit and and up-and-comers Wildcat! Wildcat! using footage shot from the bands' SXSW performances and Tweets and Vine video from their audiences.

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