For the last month, in very small numbers, we’ve been testing out a new advertising format: Sponsored Comments. We’re expanding that test based on early, promising results. So soon, it’ll be more likely that you come across a Sponsored Comment.
In fact, you may see an ad like this across Disqus this week:
It’s part of how we’re introducing this concept to sites that already use advertising on Disqus. (If your site has ads turned off, this ad will not appear.)
Why Sponsored Comments?
We launched Featured Comments earlier this year. Featured Comments are a way for publishers to highlight the best of the best at the top of a thread. This can be done for any number of reasons: to highlight a popular commenter, to highlight a particularly insightful comment, or to steer the discussion in a particular direction. This feature has been very popular in the communities which have adopted it. Here’s a good example on World Star Hip Hop. And here’s a quick demo of how you feature a comment.
Also, because Disqus now helps websites make money from engagement and discussion, a natural question came up - can we use the concept of Featured Comments in order to allow brands to reach specific audiences? This was the idea behind Sponsored Comments.
So, What Are Sponsored Comments?
Sponsored Comments let businesses deliver a message to the people they need to reach. A Sponsored Comment can use all types of media to get their point across, just like any other Disqus comment. But they’re not part of the discussion happening on that thread or community itself. That’s too disruptive.
So instead, they’re pinned to the top of the discussion environment where things are just getting started. It’s like movie previews. It’s not the thing you came for, but if done well, it adds a little bit to your experience without being intrusive. We’re testing whether or not we can make this true.
Our Goal: Ads We’re OK With
We have a lot to learn about advertising within Disqus. We want to understand what kinds of sponsored content will work well versus ones that won’t be so great. But the overarching goal is straight-forward: ads people are ok with. If we can complement the experience people already enjoy using Disqus, while at the same time helping businesses reach the people they care about, it has a lot of potential for us and our publisher partners.
So how are we thinking about the overall experience?
Quality - Businesses don’t want to ruin your fun. We have a team that is continually refining our approach to advertising content so that it’s in keeping with the site you’re on.
Positioning - Sponsored Comments aren’t there to interrupt the conversation.
Feedback - We want to hear from you. If you have feedback, please provide it in the comments section of this post.