Eight years ago this summer my colleagues and I at True/Slant, the startup I founded, had an idea: Build the tools for journalists, topic experts and marketers to publish content side by side on a new kind of news site. Editorial writers would join an incentive pay model. Marketers would pay us to be part of a credible news environment. Everyone would be transparently identified and labeled. It worked. We did exactly the same when we got to Forbes six years ago. The Forbes digital audience has since quadrupled to a record 52.7 million domestic visitors as measured by comScore. Brands have published thousands of stories on Forbes.com, engaging with digital readers in an entirely new way.
Our editorial model upset traditional journalists. The marketer-as-content-creator idea really got them riled up. Today many newsrooms have varying flavors of paid contributors. Nearly all ad departments have built programs for brands to create digital content. Through constant innovation, Forbes BrandVoice, our industry-leading program for what’s now called native advertising, is booming. It helps account for 35% our digital revenues, which in turn make up 75% of our total ad revenues.