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We’ve all but accepted that we’re entering the era of paid reach on Facebook and that our brands need to pay if they want to be seen, but is this a trend that’s spreading across the Internet? In the next few years, will we evolve almost entirely into a pay-to-play model for social, on blogs, and even in comments?
Disqus, the comment hosting service, announced the introduction of Sponsored Comments in a blog post yesterday. It has been testing the feature on a handful of websites and is expanding it to new corners of the Internet.
Sponsored Comments naturally evolved from Featured Comments, an option launched last month that lets publishers bring the best ideas to the top. If an editor likes the discussion that is forming around a particular comment, he or she will feature it. If the comment is made by an industry expert, the publisher might feature the comment to establish the website’s authority.
In short, Featured Comments let the publishers manually filter what content is high quality, while the rest of the user-base upvotes and downvotes the other comments. With this system, publishers and site visitors work together to moderate the discussion and push the trolls to the bottom. Learn from this, YouTube.
Like other comments, Sponsored Comments can attach links, photos, and videos, giving brands the opportunity to create rich ads within the posts. According to TechCrunch, the Sponsored Comments will bring in money to both Disqus and publishers, therefore making the tool more popular with publishers and increasing its prevalence around the web.
These Sponsored Comments will also be tailored to various niches. Someone reading a fashion blog might see a Sponsored Comment from Dove or CoverGirl, while those reading automotive blogs will see posts about tires and tool sets. Disqus made it clear that it plans to make the ads relevant and ideally enjoyable to readers.
Disqus hit the nail on the head when it described its Sponsored Comments:
It’s like movie previews. It’s not the thing you came for, but if done well, it adds a little bit to your experience without being intrusive… the overarching goal is straight-forward: ads people are ok with.
In native advertising, the ad flows seamlessly with the format of the website, which in this case is the comment stream. The post is clearly marked as an ad, which this one is, and the content is relevant and engaging.
Native advertising is meant to create an ad experience that the users don’t mind. They know it’s an ad, but they aren’t going to immediately block it and they will want to engage with it
When native advertising and sponsored content is done correctly, the publisher, the reader, and the marketer win.
When one piece of the puzzle is missing, either the demographic is wrong or the ad is poor, the whole triangle falls apart and consumers reach for the ad block tool. Don’t make consumers reach for the ad block tool, practice smart native advertising.