Contently, a ‘storytelling platform’ aiming to connect journalists with content marketing opportunities, has raised a $9 million funding round with participation from Sigma Prime, Sigma West, Contour Ventures and angel investor Dave Lerner, according to TechCrunch.
Effective native advertising demands brands tell stories around their product that fit the editorial vision of a given publication; it’s a growing but controversial cottage industry for journalists, who generally see their roles as ‘speaking truth to power’ rather than shilling for said powers.
For better or worse, Contently has built a marketplace for journalists to, quite literally, sell out.
Recent native ads have been praised for their quality and subtlety, such as the New York Times partnership with Dell. Other sponsored content, like last year’s ‘David Miscavige Leads Scientology to Milestone Year’ (sponsored by the Church of Scientology) in The Atlantic, have left newsroom traditionalists in a kerfuffle. BuzzFeed, arguably the world’s hottest media startup, is set to pull in over $120 million in revenue this year, largely powered by the site’s native advertising channels.
Contently CEO Shane Snow — who has a masters degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism — says that writers are paid $275/blog on average with the platform. Top brands recruiting on the site include Coca-Cola, Pepsi, General Electric and American Express. Journalists can sign up and create a portfolio for free, although Contently does take a 15% ‘agent’s fee’ when journalists receive commissions.
Contently’s primary revenues come from licensing the marketplace software to the publishers, brands, marketers and agencies looking for talent, with fees anywhere from $3,000/month to $25,000/month.
The site currently has almost 30,000 journalists registered, with 5,000+ ‘experienced professionals’ who have worked for major publications.