Flipboard Is Debuting a Swipeable ‘Promoted Roundup’ Ad That Looks Like Instagram Carousel

Sony is testing the tool

Flipboard has launched another native ad unit that lets brands promote multiple pieces of branded content or traditional advertising simultaneously in a carousel.

The format, which the mobile magazine is calling "Promoted Roundup," shows a main image that when clicked brings up a full story similar to editorial content on Flipboard. Beneath it will be several stories that users can scroll through horizontally to see if anything is worth reading.

For the launch, Sony is buying the Promoted Roundup ads to promote Alpha Universe—Sony's branded camera website that includes info about gear, lighting and shooting styles that help in part help raise awareness for its product series of mirrorless cameras. She said the latest unit helps Sony reach users beyond its website by targeting stories to the photography and tech channels on the app.

According to Flipboard CEO Mike McCue, as carousel units become more common, tests have shown the users have gotten used to swiping rather than flipping through content by interacting with similar formats on platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. McCue said he sees the formats as "print layouts but modernized."

"We've given it our own spin by maintaining this paginated experience so that we can have that edge-to-edge immersive experience," he told Adweek. "So when it's multiple items on a screen at a time, it's a clear package. It's a very clear package, so when you want to move on from that package, you just flip up."

Sephora will also be using Promoted Roundup to advertise products as a part of a larger holiday campaign. The ads are then targeted at users based on interests and also what they might be interested in based on other browsing habits. In the next few months, eBay will also begin using roundups to promote products.

McCue said brands investing in content still face the challenge of reaching the right people who will care about it.

"They can try and place it on Facebook or try to buy it on Outbrain, but the problem is then that you have this adjacency issue," he said. "You have people who are reading about something else and then they come across this article by Sony or something. And it's okay, but it could be a lot better."

The carousel style is the latest in Flipboard's suite of native ad offerings. Nicole McCormack, Flipboard's head of sales strategy, said Flipboard has been pushing to grow its suite of native ad products to attract more native content. Brands like Mini Cooper and United Airlines have used Storyboard, which debuted in September and brings a print magazine gatefold style to the mobile experience that lets brands utilize photos and video.

While some of the units are being sold programmatically, others are still being sold directly. Asked about the CPM of the native formats, McCormack said the units range between "high teens" to "high twenties"—depending on scale and targeting.

This year it also launched Promoted Story, which lets brands insert a single piece of branded content into a user's feed, and Promoted Collection, which allows three stories at once in a user's feed.

"If you think about Flipboard as a platform for discovering, sharing, consuming great content," McCormack said. "What a lot of those brands that we've talked about have been doing with us is distributing their branded content."