Disqus, which says it powers the comment sections on almost 3 million websites, is announcing a new type of ad unit today — Sponsored Comments.
Since Disqus already runs ads through its Promoted Discovery program, the idea of a Sponsored Comment seems like a pretty natural addition. However, in a company blog post, General Manager David Fleck said this actually stems from the launch of Featured Comments a month ago, with the Disqus team asking, “Can we use the concept of Featured Comments in order to make more money for publishers and allow brands to reach specific audiences?”
It sounds like a Sponsored Comment is basically a Featured Comment that advertisers pay for, occupying the same spot at the top of the thread. Not only should it bring in money for Disqus and the publisher, but Fleck suggested that it’s good for marketers, too, because it helps them advertise on “passion blogs around specific topics,” which might not be large enough to employ their own sales team.
As for the reader, Fleck said Disqus will be upholding the quality of Sponsored Comments with a team of its own that reviews these comments and applies an “extremely high threshold” before allowing them to be published. The publishers can set up their own filters, too.
A spokesperson noted that even though Featured and Sponsored Comments occupy the same spot on the page, the sponsorships won’t necessarily erase the editorially chosen comments. Which type of comment you see will rotate, so the spokesperson said, “Not all visitors will see Sponsored Comments all of the time.”
In both the blog post and subsequent correspondence, Disqus emphasized that this feature is still in its early phases. The company said it’s still looking for user feedback, and it’s still figuring out the exact pricing of the ads.