Livefyre Looks to Turn Social Media Into Custom Native Ads

Social tech vendor partners with AOL, IGN on new ad program

The Web publishing services firm Livefyre has started turning social media content into native advertising for a handful of publishers.

Livefyre—which offers publishers social tools like commenting, live blogs and live chats—built PlayStation-sponsored social hubs for IGN and AOL's Joystiq around the E3 video game event earlier this summer. The hubs pulled in user comments from PlayStation's social media channels as well as tweets, Instagram photos and Twitter Vines from conference attendees.

But the company's native social ads could take other forms, such as a sponsored poll embedded in an article, explained Livefyre CEO and founder Jordan Kretchmer. The goal is to introduce a brand's social media content to people who aren't already fans or followers while also making native advertising easier for publishers, he said.

"They struggle to do native campaigns because it takes so much effort from them. We remove all that burden," Kretchmer said, noting that the 250 publishers who already employ Livefyre's technology can easily integrate the new ad components into their sites.

To spur the effort, Livefyre has brought on Sankar Patel—formerly of Carat USA—to serve as vp of native advertising. And to keep up with demand, the company is staffing up the native ad group: two people will be hired to handle inbound requests from brands and two people will be hired to work on the media relations side, said Kretchmer.

AOL has plans to re-up its use of Livefyre's social hub program, this time on Endgadget during the 2014 CES conference, said Jessica Brunner, sales development manager for AOL Tech, with Verizon set to be the sponsor. AOL is also looking to incorporate the Livefyre offering on Techcrunch, she said. 

IGN, too, is likely to repeat its use of the Livefyre ad platform, according to senior sales director Yael Prough.

The branding on the social hubs built so far is fairly subtle, with a simple "presented by PlayStation" message at the top of the page along with the brand's social media feeds. According to Kretchmer, more publishers are interested in getting on board, with five more campaigns lined up.

Here's a fuller view of what the social hub page at Joystiq looked like: