Smart, ballsy or funny -- that’s how Sound Alliance CEO Neil Ackland describes the vision he and his team had for upstart pop culture website Junkee
"We looked at pop culture, and we felt like it was being dumbed down," he said. "We could see a huge shift in the news consumption habits of young people. They get their news from social media, and they share what makes them look funny, clever or interesting."
And so a year ago, Junkee
was born. It's since cemented its place among Sound Alliance’s stable, which includes youth websites like FasterLouder
. It’s already surpassed 600,000 unique browsers in March (an exceptionally good month for traffic), and commercially, it’s tracking ahead of expectations. It’s through Junkee
that Sound Alliance, Australia’s leading youth publisher, pioneered the use of "native advertising" (or branded content) in Australia -- such advertising now contributes close to 20% of total revenue.
Native isn’t a new concept globally; it’s a key part of websites like BuzzFeed
overseas. But Sound Alliance is the first company to take it up in a big way in Australia. The company’s positioning has helped, Ackland told Crikey
. "Brands tend to be more open to experimentation on youth campaigns," he said. "It’s not been that difficult to get interest from brands and media agencies around what we’re doing. We’ve had 12 months of really evolving and refining the model, and the results are getting better and better."
Native advertising can be described as advertorial on steroids. Instead of relying on the clout of media personalities to add their credibility to a brand, the brand borrows from and leans on the editorial sensibilities of a media outlet. The idea is for the advertising to be less intrusive and more of what users would want to read.