Forbes’ Sponsored Content Bet Pays Off

Digital dollars make up half of total ad revenue

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Since launching its BrandVoice platform in 2010, Forbes has become one of the leaders in native advertising, fueling the debate over whether publishers should be running sponsored posts alongside—and sometimes indistinguishable from—editorial content. Ethics aside, the conceit seems to be working: In the wake of a Pew report that sponsorship advertising was up 40 percent in 2012, Forbes Media is touting the growth of its own revenues—thanks, in part, to its success with native ads.

The company achieved its best financial performance in five years in 2012, according to a memo released this morning by Forbes Media CEO Mike Perlis. Digital ad revenue, which increased 19 percent year over year, accounted for half of the company’s total ad revenue for the year, said Perlis. Ten percent of total revenue came from advertisers who incorporated BrandVoice into their buys, and by the end of this year, that share is estimated to rise to 25 percent.

Things seemed pretty positive across other areas of Forbes’ business as well. Newsstand sales and ad pages were up 2 percent and 4 percent, respectively, amid industry-wide drops in both areas. The relatively new tablet app recently broke 200,000 downloads. And in the brand extension space, Forbes’ Healthcare Summit attracted enough sponsorship dollars to break even in its first year.

@adweekemma Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.