Flipboard Adds More Ads

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Social magazine platform Flipboard, which lets users aggregate content from multiple sources into a personalized digital publication, has launched a new ad format.

The format blurs the line between editorial content and marketing messages by allowing branded content to be served up within the main feed of users’ magazines, identified as such by a “promoted” label. Marketing content served via this format can include full articles, videos and photos, according to Flipboard’s press release. Products can of course also be advertised directly, and can include links to where the viewer can buy the item.

Flipboard said Promoted Items can also be used by its publishing partners as another outlet for native ad campaigns they’re running on their own sites — allowing them to serve inventory on Flipboard to gain extra impressions.

The first advertisers signed up to the new ad format include Levi’s and NARS Cosmetics (a mock up sample ad is pictured at the top of this post), starting from next month. Thereafter the University of California will also be promoting content from its own brand Flipboard magazine, Fiat Lux.

The new advertorial units aren’t the first ads displayed within Flipboard, even if the service was originally touted, way back in 2010, as a way to browse custom-curated editorial content without any pesky ads cluttering the layout. That position quickly shifted into monetization efforts focused on encouraging brands to pay above average costs for advertising within a mobile app, thanks to Flipboard expending above average effort to cultivate a high-end look. (Although it does not report its ad revenue.)

The first ads arrived in 2011 as full-page ad units within users’ magazines — a size it suggested would “evoke the beauty of print”. It also launched a curated magazines feature in 2013, which let brands (and anyone) repurpose content into a single publication, hosted on its platform.

Now it’s going a stage further by allowing brands to pay to inject different types of marketing content, including multimedia, into others’ magazines. Likely it has its eye on capitalizing on continued growth of online video.

Brands paying for Promoted Items on Flipboard will initially able to select placement based on an interest channel — such as News, Tech, Sports, Business, Style, Entertainment, Auto, Lifestyle, Design, Travel or Culinary & Food.

Flipboard does not yet report monthly active users but as of about a year ago it says it had around 100 million “activated” users — which means people who have used the service at some point in time.