An experiment in brand story-telling


Since starting this blog in 2006, I’ve been the sole writer and publisher of content,  making only a couple of exceptions over the past few years with content written by named guest writers.

I strongly believe in transparency where disclosure of interest is the default. If I’m in any doubt about whether to disclose something or not, I tend to err on disclose.

So before I get to the precise point of writing this post, I’d like to state a couple of things:

  1. I’ve never accepted payment for any content published here other than the business podcast I co-host which has paying sponsors; the sponsor relationships are clearly stated in every show notes post (and mentioned in more detail on my business website).
  2. I starting running a Google ad in the sidebar last year, clearly marked as an ad, but that has no influence on or relationship with any content that I write.
  3. This blog is sponsored by WebHostingBuzz (explained when we started our relationship) where there’s a sponsor ad in the sidebar and a link in the page footer.
  4. None of the links to content elsewhere that are in any posts have any affiliate or other hidden links of any type.
  5. When I write about a company, a product or a service where that company or its PR agency has provided me with that product or service at no cost to me, I always disclose that fact in any review I publish.

I think you’ll agree that things are pretty transparent around here.

In that vein, let me tell you about a new relationship I’ve formed, one that will result in payment from specific content I may publish.

Soon, I’ll start publishing video content in posts that will be part of brand campaigns managed through Goviral, a unit of AOL Networks. They invited me to participate in their programme, which they describe like this:

The premium branded video distribution network

goviral specialises in the distribution of viewer-activated premium video content from some of the world’s leading global brands.

Through our network, we target brand content to consumers on a click-to-play basis – our philosophy is to be always relevant and never intrusive. Consumers willingly click to watch, leading to increased engagement and dwell time while earning publishers money every time a video is viewed.

It means that I will publish a post containing a video from a brand campaign for which Goviral will pay me a placement fee. I’ll also get paid per click, valued every time a visitor clicks a video to play it.

My motivator for agreeing to be part of this programme isn’t the money. Really. We’re not talking big numbers in any case, although time will tell whether this has the possibility of becoming a nice little earner rather than just providing the means for me to treat my wife to a nice dinner now and again.

What interests me mainly is that it helps me experiment and get hands-on experience in an area of online communication that I believe will be significant soon – that of influential niche networks rather than mass media to connect people directly and effectively with brand content and compelling messaging where an audio-visual core to story-telling will be key as will be the place from which the content is delivered.

Another fact is that Goviral provides me with the video content (embed codes); what I may write in the post to include that content is up to me. So I write the words to go with their video content, as little or as much as I choose. Each post will be marked to differentiate it from the ‘regular’ content I publish here.

And I choose which campaign to post about, or not. My decision.

Finally, I’ve Googled Goviral, read the reviews, good and bad. I also watched this video of Goviral CEO Rene Rechtman speaking about the future of online advertising and monetizing content during a panel discussion at the Monaco Media Forum last November.

In sum, I’m okay with getting involved with Goviral for the reasons I’ve mentioned.

You may wonder if I’m turning into a shill for a brand. Or a paid endorser, selling my soul for a piece of filthy lucre. No, I’m not and I haven’t. But don’t just take my word for it – see what I post in the coming months, then make up your mind and tell me what you think.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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