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Upworthy Sees Strong Response to Purpose-Driven Advertising Program

Companies mentioned in this article: Upworthy

NEW YORK, July 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Upworthy today announced strong support from advertisers for its new Collaborations advertising program. Announcing new campaigns with Upworthy this week are Procter & Gamble's Pantene and Virgin Mobile. They lead a group of two dozen brands and NGOs that join charter advertiser Unilever in the program, including leading consumer brands Gap Inc., Nestle's new all-natural Purina Beyond, GUESS Foundation, and P&G's COVERGIRL; IPG Mediabrands; and the US Fund for UNICEF.

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Upworthy's Collaborations advertising program brings purpose-driven brand content aligned with the company's mission to its highly engaged audience.

The company's success tracks with broader evidence of the growing imperative of mission-driven advertising - and specifically the power of purpose in a brand's communications to customers. Already this year, two major studies underscore the premium value available to brands connected to purpose. Comprehensive research from Google, TNS and Ogilvy found that "brand purpose is critical to break through the clutter and drive purchases" and that brand experiences that "generate an emotional experience ... win at the point of purchase." Also, Nielsen recently found that 55% of consumers will pay extra to companies committed to positive social and environmental impact.

"We made some bets when we decided to create a mission-driven media company: that people would be interested in high-quality content about important topics; that technology was advanced enough to help us make great choices about what to highlight; and that advertisers would want to support it all," said Upworthy cofounder Eli Pariser. "Today, it's clear that mission-driven content is the most shareable and highly engaging. And now we're working with brands to prove that purpose-driven marketing can be the most effective."

Upworthy's audience is one of the most engaged on the Web, according to aggregation and engagement-analysis firm Newswhip. "Upworthy regularly delivers the most social activity per piece of content across the top 25 media sites on the web," said Newswhip CEO Paul Quigley. "It's clear that the nature of their content is making readers interact in a uniquely kinetic way - driving them to like, share, and comment in droves."

Compared to the average piece of content from the Top 25 Web publishers tracked by the analytics firm in May 2014, the average piece of Upworthy content drove more than 29 times the number of social actions (which include shares, likes and comments)

Initial Upworthy Collaborations exceeding expectations

Initial results from Upworthy Collaborations have been equally impressive. In one of the true surprises of the program, brand content is performing extremely well, and regularly outperforms typical posts on the site.

On average, brand content appearing on Upworthy gets 3.5 times more overall views, 2.9 times more Attention Minutes, and earns three times as many social shares, compared to average content on the site. And when compared to the average social actions per post for the top 25 digital publishers, brand content posted on Upworthy gets an impressive 64 times the number of overall social actions, according to the Newswhip engagement data.

"Working with the Upworthy team is proving to be an insightful and rewarding experience," said Marc Matthieu, senior vice president of marketing at Unilever. "The Project Sunlight Series' The World As Kids See It is delivering outstanding results. We've now crossed 25 million total impressions from more than a million unique visitors, while social sharing is generating similarly impressive results."

"Upworthy is the perfect platform for the GUESS Foundation Denim Day campaign because it's a powerful and also sensitive social cause," said Jen Ray, vice president/account director at Havas Media. "We were able to curate and promote really powerful content and we blew past benchmarks and planned campaign views within the first 48 hours. Final views were almost 500 percent over what we planned."

"We're thrilled to be collaborating with Upworthy on a totally new, innovative program for our clients where we use media as a catalyst for social change," said Andy Von Kennel, Senior Vice President at IPG Mediabrands. "We've been impressed by their deep understanding of what connects with their audience and appreciative of their flexibility to help us customize an approach that can be tailored for different types of brand clients."

Details of the IPG Mediabrands program are expected to be announced later this year.

Adding talent and expanding reach

Underpinning these gains has been significant growth in the size of the Upworthy team.

At the board level, the company welcomed digital-media veteran Kim Kelleher, who is well known for her skill in driving revenue and sales strategy. Now on the board of Say Media, she was previously worldwide publisher of TIME and was named Advertising Age's publisher of the year during her tenure. She also led Sports Illustrated ad sales and served as vice president and publisher of Conde Nast's SELF.

"Upworthy is truly unique - from its diverse culture and distributed infrastructure to its dedication to quality and focus on mission," said Kim Kelleher. "This next step is an exciting one, as they gear up to work with more large brands to bring relevance and meaning to their advertising campaigns."

Kelleher's addition brings total board members to five. She joins co-founders Eli Pariser and Peter Koechley, Spark Capital's Andrew Parker, and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.

Separately, Upworthy announced it has doubled the size of its curator team in service of an even broader editorial focus in 2014 that accommodates additional topics the Upworthy community sees as important. In selecting curators, the company focused on ensuring a balance and inherent diversity that would naturally extend to content choices.

"We give our curators a high bar," said Peter Koechley, Upworthy co-founder. "We ask them to find and present incredibly engaging pieces and we put an equal premium on diversity of views. So even within a single topic, you'll see multiple points of view as well as neutral explainers curated. We think that's important in helping people develop informed views and make the smartest choices. And it starts with making sure we're bringing folks onto the team who are demographically, geographically, and professionally diverse."

Nearly 2,000 people applied for Upworthy's open curator posts; 275 made it through the first round; 85 progressed past a second test; 47 were interviewed; and 10 were hired as full-time curators. The company also added four contributing curators. A full 26 curators in 19 cities now find and select Upworthy's content.

The company has also doubled the size of its technology and business-development teams. Overall, Upworthy now has a distributed workforce of 63 people in 39 cities.

Upworthy brings massive amounts of attention to things that matter in the world. Every day, the mission-driven media company's curators find and spotlight important, high-quality content using a proprietary approach that combines deep social science, strong voice, and a passionate community. Upworthy has one of the most-engaged audiences in digital media and each month, about 50 million people experience Upworthy content. Investors include Spark Capital, the Knight Foundation, and leading individual investors such as Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and BuzzFeed co-founder John Johnson. Learn more at http://www.upworthy.com.

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SOURCE Upworthy