Content Marketing

Presence, Curation, and Creation: Wattpad’s Three-Pronged Approach to Native Ads

Wattpad, which Mashable once called “The Most Active Social Site You’ve Never Heard Of,” is making big moves to bank on native advertising.

Wattpad—a Medium for fanfiction and creative writing—has already had major success engaging both teens and young adults; 40 percent of the platform’s users are between the ages of 18 and 30. And engagement is high. Of Wattpad’s 30 million users, 27 million are active each month.

Now, brands looking for a captive, creative young audience for their content may want to bet on Wattpad; after all, Wattpad is betting on branded content.

“We see native advertising being one of the main paths we’ll be able to monetize in our community,” Aron Levitz, head of business development at Wattpad, explained. “The way we see it is helping a brand tell their story.”

Through native ads, Levitz offers brands myriad ways to tell their story, which he splits into three categories: presence, curation, and creation.

“Presence” refers to the brand’s Wattpad account, the base that gives a brand a voice within the Wattpad community. When promoted, a brand account is promoted as a display ad. For example, in a recent campaign for 20th Century Fox’s The Fault in Our Stars—a blockbuster movie based on the bestselling book by John Green—the book cover served as the creative for the display ad, while the movie’s release date provided the call to action.

When Wattpad readers click through, they access custom content both created and curated specifically for The Fault in Our Stars. Levitz said the profile has received 25 million impressions, while “click-through rates are through the roof.”

For the “creation” category, Wattpad commissions authors to write special stories and books, like a recent One Direction fanfiction e-book, commissioned by Sony Music Group. For The Fault in Our Stars—a love story between two cancer patients—Wattpad commissioned three of its top writers to expand on the idea of “extraordinary love.” Then, they promoted those stories through the TFIOS Wattpad account. With more than 200,000 followers, the account has become the fifth-most-followed account on Wattpad.

Finally, “curation” involves gathering related reading lists of stories on the platform. For the TFIOS account, Wattpad compiled a top-10 list of fanfiction and a list of extraordinary love stories. “That association with really popular content is a whole new avenue brands can take advantage of on Wattpad,” Levitz noted. In TFIOS’ eight-week campaign, its reading lists received nearly 1 million unique views and 9 million total views.

Down the line, Wattpad may also experiment with bonus content that readers can purchase for a fee. Levitz says the type of content they’ll use depends on the Wattpad writers and what they think their fans will appreciate, but he imagines they’ll be bonus chapters or pieces of writing from another point of view.

With all of these new developments, Levitz isn’t shy to admit that explaining Wattpad’s potential to brands has become the best part of his job. “We tell them we can tell their story in words and it’s almost a shocking revelation. The response has been amazing.”

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Image by Wattpad
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