The fastest growing news site ever is ready to start making money. Coming off its biggest month of traffic yet, Upworthy, the social news aggregator that pairs progressive politics with viral marketing savvy, is in the early phase of introducing advertising to its model. The 14-month-old site is talking to marketers about participating in a sponsored content pilot program.
While Upworthy will invite the expected liberal advocacy groups and nonprofits to pay to have their messages promoted, it will also welcome for-profit brands, says editor in chief and cofounder Peter Koechley. What, exactly, will advertisers be paying for? To have their messages spiffed up with the same editorial techniques that helped Upworthy reach a new high of 30 million unique visitors in May, according to the measurement firm Quantcast.
Upworthy, which curates and repackages existing content but doesn’t produce any of its own, wasn’t the first site to feature Sobiech’s story, but it was the one that launched it as a viral phenomenon. That’s no coincidence. According to analysis by Scanvine, a typical piece of content on Upworthy is more than 50% more likely to be shared than content from Buzzfeed or The Onion, and more than twice as likely as a Mashable story.
That’s fairly strong evidence for Upworthy’s claim that it understand the dynamics of social sharing better than anyone else. “People had thought of viral content as just lightning in a bottle — you can’t do it on purpose,” says Pariser. “We’ve really been trying to reverse engineer virality.”
Upworthy is backed by $4 million in financing from New Republic owner and former Facebook FB +0.53% executive Chris Hughes and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, among others. From the sounds of things, that cash stash might be supplemented sooner than later.
Here’s a look at the traffic stats that underlie that claim to being the fastest growing news site ever.
By: Jeff Bercovici, Forbes Staff