US-based The Daily Dot has relaunched online tech magazine The Kernel following its January acquisition.
The title has retained its branding as The Kernel but has been reshaped into a topic-specific, weekly digital magazine with a branded content commercial proposition.
Each edition has a single sponsor and the Daily Dot will use its in-house content agency to work with brands on the native advertising service.
The first edition launched with NSS Labs as sponsor and took an in-depth look at hacking culture, such as the FBI’s efforts to track down Anonymous Hacktivist Jeremy Hammond and a continuation of the Daily Dot’s investigations into Anonymous member-turned-FBI-informant Hector Xavier Monsegur, also known as ‘Sabu’.
“We’re going to be focused on building up an advertising base for it and we’re taking a bit of a different perspective,” Daily Dot chief executive Nicholas White told The Drum.
“Each issue is intended to be sponsored by a single brand; what the Daily Dot brings to The Kernel is an in-house agency that offers full creative and strategic services. We’ll work with brands that align with each issue, and then come up with unique, creative ways to enhance the issue with their brands.
“In a way the whole thing is a kind of native advertising project if you zoom out a bit. It’s a Daily Dot product brought to you by brand X. It’s the big value of native advertising when it’s done well.”
The move follows the “evolution” of the Daily Dot’s in-house content services, something White said became more “formally” arranged within the company only last week.
“We didn’t really launch it so much as it sort of evolved,” he explained. “We’ve done more and more creative, strategic work for our clients. This is new territory for a lot of brands; I think that we have a unique understanding of the internet and as we’ve gone along we’ve increasingly had the demand from our clients to be more comprehensive.
“Over the course of this year we’ve done more in terms of strategy, and media plans with other publications we have an affiliation with that we think would be a good fit for our clients.”
One such client is US brand Deep Eddy Vodka, for which the Daily Dot has delivered branded content, display campaigns and microsites, and for which the publication is now digital agency of record, according to White.
However, responding to concerns that the increasingly close relationship between publishers and the production of commercial content could compromise journalistic integrity, White said that brands which embrace content marketing properly must acknowledge that it's authentic editorial content that resonates with readers.
“If we do it right it won’t be an issue because native advertising is about alignment, not product placement,” he said. “We’ve all read the articles about how self-driving cars are the future, and one day car brand X wants to have self-driving cars – nobody’s fooled by that. That’s what I would describe as just shit.
“If we’re going to do a piece about self-driving cars it might not be with those who are working directly on that tech, but it might be a brand like Dell, which is not directly involved in that tech but it tells the story that it is innovative, that is is thinking about the future, that it’s really interesting in life-changing technology and bringing investigation and insight to its audience. If it’s done that way then it doesn’t compromise the journalism itself.”
Daily Dot Media bought The Kernel from founder and editor-in-chief Milo Yiannopoulos at the beginning of the year following a turbulent financial period for the publication. The Kernel had already relaunched in August after settling £24,000 worth of debt.
However, the title was growing in popularity and attracted 500,000 unique visitors per month. Most recently it broke stories such as the porn e-book scandal at Amazon, WHSmith and a number of other online retailers.
Texas-based The Daily Dot launched in 2011 with the aim of being an “internet community newspaper”, and it has steadily built an audience of more than 12 million unique users each month.