And Now, a Story From Our Sponsors

New NetShelter product lets brands become content curators

Facebook pitches its Sponsored Stories ads as a way for advertisers to piggyback on user-generated content. Microsoft took a different approach with its People Powered Stories product, which populates a display ad with tweets and discussion board posts but also expert-generated content like product reviews. Tech-centric blog network NetShelter is banking on the latter’s inclusion of expertise as a brand peg with its latest ad product.

Rather than run an ad alongside an article, NetShelter’s inPowered Stories ads have brands recommend other articles that might be of interest to the reader—and reflect positively on the brand, of course.

Let’s say you’re reading a story on the latest Android phone. Samsung, the largest Android manufacturer, could sponsor an ad that would appear below the article. But rather than run-of-the-mill "click here" ads, the unit would highlight an article posted on one of NetShelter’s blogs that’s easily associated with Samsung, such as a product review. Users can click through to the story from within the ad or share it via Facebook or Twitter. They can also share the story from the article’s page.

The unit is "advertising as a way to amplify expert word-of-mouth,” said NetShelter co-founder and president Pirouz Nilforoush. His brother and NetShelter co-founder and CEO Peyman Nilforoush added that when it comes to big-ticket, infrequent purchases, "consumers trust the experts.”

NetShelter launched inPowered Stories on May 8 in an open beta with five partner brands, and it's pricing the ads based on performance. If a user clicks to read the sponsored article, the advertiser pays. If a user shares the article to Facebook or Twitter, the advertiser also pays. Brands running inPowered Stories can run ads on the page featuring a sponsored article, but Peyman said advertisers might opt out of that so as not to overdo the brand messaging.

NetShelter’s inPowered platform surfaces contextually relevant articles that an advertiser can choose from. The platform presents stories to brands in order of virality, but the advertiser can also choose which articles they want to run ads against.

NetShelter will run one inPowered Story per page to start, but it's open to running multiple units on a page down the road, said Peyman.