October 8th, 2012
The Advertorial's Best Friend
By KEACH HAGEY
Wall Street Journal
Last April, the BuzzFeed website posted “11 Things No One Wants To See You Instagram,” a snarky reminder to resist the temptation to share online photos of your lunch or toes.
Over the next few weeks, the post drew 2,000 Facebook FB -1.53% “likes” and about 330,000 views. But most of those views weren’t on BuzzFeed’s home page. Instead, they were from people sharing the post on social-media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Stories go viral every day. But what made the post unusual is that it was an ad for Virgin Mobile, which was promoting more entertainment for sharing on the Virgin Mobile Live website.
Aimed at enhancing Virgin Mobile’s brand, the so-called sponsored story was an example of a new breed of online marketing that takes advantage of people’s tendency to share online content with their friends.