In November 2010, Forbes.com launched BrandVoice at a time when the concept of native advertising wasn't well known. Five years later, the site is rolling out a new sponsored content platform called Pulse.
With help from Droga5, the effort kicks off today with Toyota in the driver's seat. In addition to trivia questions, data visualization and video content, the automaker's month-long Pulse dashboard will include feature pieces based on the tagline "Fueled by Skepticism." The idea is to highlight automotive and technological innovations once predicted to have little chance of commercial success.
"About a year ago, we upgraded our homepages for staffers, contributors and marketing partners," Forbes' chief product officer Lewis D'Vorkin told Adweek. "We upgraded very visually, and we gave marketers the tools to program."
"With Toyota, we've made it very high-touch," D'Vorkin continued. "The same page that was built for editorial, high-touch, has been built for Toyota, high-touch. Toyota's content has the same look and feel, transparently labeled. Pulse is, for us, a consistent continuation of building a page that works the experience, as consumers see it, on Forbes—fully labeled, fully transparent. I believe we are unique in creating pages like that."
At the end of the campaign, Toyota will get detailed engagement metrics like average dwell time and scroll depth. Each Pulse campaign also includes some content in the print edition of Forbes.
No one on D'Vorkin's editorial team was involved in the creation of Toyota's campaign content—the BrandVoice team operates separately and reports to chief revenue officer Mark Howard.
"As chief product officer, I kind of sit horizontally across from it all," D'vorkin said. "I worked with the development and design people to implement all this. But the content comes from Toyota and our BrandVoice team."