Imgur, a fast-growing image-sharing network popular with creators and fans of memetic content, is planning on generating revenue and sustaining its growth by introducing “Promoted Posts” next year.
Recently-hired vice president of market development Steve Patrizi said Imgur, fresh off of a $40 million round of funding from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, is looking to take a different tack to sponsored content than similar websites through a distinct embrace of native advertising.
“Rather than doing wallpaper stuff or crazy banners, we think there’s something very powerful that can come from a brand that’s not overly commercialized, that looks and feels like other posts there,” said Patrizi.
Though this isn’t the first time Imgur has deployed sponsored content, Patrizi — formerly of LinkedIn and Pinterest — says Promoted Posts are different in that they will be something more than a beta test. Imgur’s old brand of ad packages, called Sponsored Posts, was an experimental initiative designed to learn best practices for native ads and build positive working relationships for brands without alienating their user base. Sponsored Posts were given prominent placement on Imgur’s homepage; Promoted Posts, by comparison, will appear after users click on organic content.
This may solve a problem with engagement rates, as Imgur had previously said that Sponsored Posts garnered engagement rates of one to four percent.
Interestingly, brands will not be able to target Promoted Posts to specific demographics, only the entire website. Patrizi explained this decision by pointing to Imgur’s sense of community, stating that the site is more likely to enjoy and talk about an ad that can be viewed by everyone as opposed to a select group of people.
Imgur hopes to roll out Promoted Posts in July, working with a select handful of brands in the gaming, entertainment, and packaged-goods industries to deliver content relevant to their audience.
UPS and Tesla are among the biggest names interested in advertising with Imgur, emboldened by test Sponsored Posts campaigns with upvote rates of ninety percent. Brands are hoping that Imgur’s strong sense of community and embrace of native advertising will allow them to connect with their markets on an intimate level competing social networks might not allow.