The Huffington Post will likely see 30 per cent of its revenue coming from branded content solutions by the end of this year according to CEO Jimmy Maymann after a faster than expected acceleration in the space.
Speaking to The Drum at the AOP’s autumn conference in London, Maymann said the UK was second behind the US in the branded content market in his view and the publisher hoped to take the advertising solution to markets such as Japan, where he said some have “never even heard of” the technique.
“It’s not only been for us but that market in general, there’s been an acceleration,” he said. “It’s reaching the masses in the US in the sense that a lot of advertisers now want to get into this.
“For us it’s obviously meant that we’ve had a lot of success with it. We’ve had to hire a lot more people than we initially thought in the HuffPost partner studios. This whole shift has arrived quite a bit faster than we expected. Two years ago, what we call content marketing – basically branded content, native advertising and social impact campaigns – didn’t really exist for us and now this year it’s going to be up to 30 per cent of our revenue. That’s a significant shift.”
The Huffington Post has spent recent years developing a global roll-out of the brand which has taken it outside of the US and into markets including the US, France, Italy, Japan and Brazil. Maymann plans to complete HuffPost’s expansion into 15 markets by March or April next year after launches in Greece, India, the Arab region and Australia.
Maymann went on: “Content marketing has the potential to work in all markets, although there are some differences between regions.
“In Japan right now actually we’re testing out native solutions and branded content solutions because it’s something they’ve never heard of so it’s quite interesting to see whether we can actually get it to work at scale there.
“Also Japan is a really a mobile-first market in the sense that 85 per cent of our audience is coming to us via a mobile device which also means the experience is a different one because it’s a smaller screen.
“We just need to figure out the right way for that audience to really embrace it and engage with it.”
The Huffington Post will also invest more in developing video content next year in a bid to increase video views from 12-15 per cent of all views currently to half.
“It actually looks like we’re under indexing in terms of what the audience is doing, so we’ve put it on ourselves that by the end of next year we want to raise the bar in terms of our ambitions for video,” he said.
“We want to see if we can get to 50 per cent of our views coming from video content which obviously is tripling where we are today so that’s a huge thing and a huge commitment to the organisation.”
Maymann added that HuffPost may reconsider its current position of not using YouTube for video and embrace the platform in future after having established its video business in its own right. HuffPost’s video content brings in 130-150 million views on a monthly basis.