City Desk

Washington Post Tries Sponsored Content

Well, that's one way to reduce $53.7 million in operating losses. The Washington Post announced today that it's starting to offer advertisers "sponsored content" slots on its homepage through a program called BrandConnect.

The first sponsored ad, from wireless trade association CTIA, appears on the left side of the Post's homepage (pictured). CTIA's first piece of sponsored content is about wireless in West Virginia, but a Post press release promises upcoming "blog posts, video case studies, and infographics" from the trade association. DigiDay notes that the Post is the first major U.S. newspaper to offer sponsored content. (Washington City Paper also sells space for sponsored content.)

While the BrandConnect program is new, the Post, like many newspapers, also sells advertorials in its print edition—including long-running inserts from the Chinese and Russian governments that have also had Web components. Like the Post's Russia Now and China Watch websites, today's CTIA content has a different layout than the Post's editorial content.

Post is also playing fair by making sure sponsored content is labeled. But we won't know how rigorous BrandConnect's  standards are, one supposes, until the paper gets an offer from the Church of Scientology.

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