It was only a matter of time before marketers started squeezing native ads into every nook of a publisher's site, and now Condé Nast, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and Fox News can sell promos that pop up in story comments.
Today, Livefyre—a tech company that powers online discussions—is unveiling sponsored comments for big-name media brands like the ones mentioned above. While the idea of in-feed ads isn't new (competitor Disqus launched similar promos last year), Livefyre's ads are sold directly by publishers, opening up a potentially interesting revenue stream for them.
"You can distribute more ads into the page, especially if there are 100 comments on the page," said Jordan Kretchmer, Livefyre's founder and CEO. "Typically, by the time the user is down there reading the comments, there's no ads around it—all the ads are up above the fold."
In addition to selling the ads, publishers will also control how often they pop up. For example, a media company may only want to serve a promo in one out of every six comments.
Of course, plugging ads right next to trolls and negative discussions is a risky move for brands. To control the environment as much as possible, Kretchmer said the majority of his company's clients already use automated moderation tools that weed out spammy posts such as those from rogue e-commerce marketers.
"The risk is far less today than it would have been a couple of years ago," he said.
Kretchmer also explained the ads are targeted based on editorial content. For example, Nike can set up a campaign that only runs on sports articles.
"Users who are reading and leaving comments are the most engaged users on a site," Kretchmer explained. "With customers who have a good, active community, comments are where they spend most of their time, and in a lot of times, [they spend] more time reading the comments than the article itself."