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Upworthy signs up Unilever for native advertising drive and becomes latest to shun display and banner ads

Upworthy is ditching traditional internet advertising in favour of a native advertising programme, Upworthy Collaborations, and Unilever has been announced as a brand partner.

Deal: Upworthy has partnered with Unilever

The site, which utilises viral content to raise awareness of social issues, announced the strategy in a blog post, and said it was aimed at making the website as “clean and enjoyable” for readers as possible.

“That’s why there are no expandable banner ads, homepage takeovers, or garish advertorial content on the site,” the statement said. “You will see tasteful sponsorships, clearly disclosed promotional content, and excellent curation around topics that both the brand and Upworthy believe in deeply.”

Upworthy insisted that the site would main editorial integrity and that advertisers would have “no ability or leverage” to affect content.

The brand has experimented in the past with brands like Skype and Dove, but Unilever has been named as the first official brand partner of the project. Upworthy will promote the best of existing Project Sunlight content from Unilever, which was created in November last year to encourage people across the world to join “a growing community of people who want to make the world a better place for children and future generations”.

The Project is part of Unilever’s new marketing strategy, ‘Crafting Brands for Life’, which is partly aimed at using brands and technology to overcome social challenges. According to Upworthy, Unilever is a good fit for the site’s audience due to their “great strides toward a more sustainable world”.

Marc Mathieu, Unilever senior vice president global marketing, said: “Upworthy attracts a huge community of highly influential, socially conscious citizens – people who share our goal of building a better future for children.

“Our partnership will include work for several of our brands, and we are looking forward to seeing how effective story-telling can help us engage with people more meaningfully.”

In another native advertising deal, Unilever signed a seven-figure partnership with the Guardian in February as part of the title’s newly-launched Guardian Labs service.

Native advertising was popularised as a funding model by publishers such as Buzzfeed and mainstream publishers including Trinity Mirror and Bauer Media have piloted websites using the model.