Huffington Post launches paid Tweets and comments

This could work well if done right. The Huffington Post is to offer advertisers the ability to post paid tweets and comments.

The aggregator, which made a splash with Facebook when it launched its social news service with Facebook Connect, could be onto something by allowing advertisers to join the conversation with sponsored tweets and comments.

Let’s face it investing in a targeted campaign like this could deliver more results than a banner ad. It is also very “social” and is already similar to what some brands are doing on Twitter when they respond to tweets on the basis of keyword searches.

This takes the process a step further, but it will come down to execution and relevancy. And getting it wrong will result in the kind of social media blowback that advertisers like Habitat and Skittles have witnessed first hand.

Ad Age quotes Greg Coleman, Huffington Post’s president and chief revenue officer as saying that marketers will receive guidance on the best ways to join the conversation. He says advertisers need to add value. If they do that and it is not done to death this could be not unhelpful.

If there is a thread going on the World Cup or tweets on the latest from South Africa a brand putting out stats or bits of news that are interesting and relevant is unlikely to attract the ire of users. Likewise in a review of a book or an interview with a writer it would not feel out of place to see a publisher’s comments appear.

“You cannot use the social engagement for the purposes of really hawking your products,” Coleman told Ad Age. “The advertiser is really put in a position where they need to add value to the conversation that’s taking place.”

It could raise questions about editorial independence, however; about how editorial might have to work closer with advertisers.

Coleman doesn’t put a price to any of these news ideas, but he says it should more than double revenue by next year and “expand it more than six times during the next three years”.

This all comes as the Huffington Post continues to expand adding books, sport and local versions of the site in Denver, Chicago and New York.


  • Philippe Lang

    Paid comments are a good idea; the trick is in the execution. As readers are already pointing out, paid comments in the reader’s section of the blogs and online journals feels sleazy, as if the publication is giving the advertiser an unfair leg up.

    I believe that paid messages DO have a place in online journals and blogs; after all, marketers are members of the community and want to have their opinion heard. This is how we do it:
    – All paid comments need to be clearly marked as “sponsored”
    – Paid comments should be in their own designated area. It feels unfair if they’re interspersed with reader’s comments
    – Paid comments should NOT be be mere ads but sincere efforts to engage readers in an open dialog

    My company, has launched a platform for Sponsored Comments based on those best practices. As a result, we are getting positive feedback from readers, our advertisers receive high click-trough rates and our publishers generate new premium revenues.

  • Gordon Macmillan

    Great comments Phillipe, i think you hit the nail on the head with; “marketers are members of the community” – and as long as they are clearly marked and maybe in separate area (hadn’t considered that) then they should work and have a place.

  • Chris J Arnold

    Names have been changed by the way.

  • Katey Walter