Are we so sure that all this sponsored content is worth the trouble?
Native advertising distribution firm Sharethrough compiled a ranking of the biggest brand-produced sponsored stories from 2013. And what perhaps sticks out the most is that none of these stories seems to have really taken off on the social Web—which is the promise of the entire native ads movement.
For example, the top sponsored story on the list was from Harper Collins. It naturally ran on BuzzFeed: 17 Problems Only Book Lovers Will Understand. According to Sharethrough, the piece generated 715,267 social actions.
That's not so bad. But it's also pretty striking that not a single brand (at least among those tracked by Sharethrough) could crack a million shares or likes.
Even more striking: the falloff is severe. In second place was a story by Blackberry on Cracked: 5 Real-Life Stories of Twins Creepier Than Any Horror Movie that generated 656,478 actions. After that, the numbers drop to 115,000 shares, to 80,000, to the number 10 story, a post by Marriot in Fast Company Called the Future of Travel that generated just 23,023 social actions. That's not exactly setting the Web on fire—yet the piece cracked the top 10.
That doesn't seem to bode well for the future of brands as social publishers (It should be noted that this list doesn't include video, an arena where many brands have thrived in 2013).
Here's the full ranking from Sharethrough: