Launchsquad started Original9 media as a content agency two years ago, at first, as an extension to the agency’s PR clients. But over the last year, Original9 has increasingly taken on its own clients and is now partnering with publishers — including the New York Times and Condé Nast — looking to outsource editorial for their sponsored content.[caption id="attachment_2225" align="alignright" width="200"] Brett Weiner[/caption]
For instance, the New York Times called on Original9 for story generation and research around sponsored content from United Airlines during the Olympics. In this case, the client was the New York Times — not United Airlines — whose design team ultimately handled the content production.
Brett Weiner, co-founder of Original9, says the firm has worked with the New York Times on several other projects this year. The agency is also working on a similar custom content project with a Condé Nast brand.
“We’ve talked to a lot of publishers and we’re seeing a lot of interest from them on sponsored content programs,” Weiner, who is also a partner at Launchsquad, says. While the demand is coming from both publishers and brands, Weiner expects the industry to tilt towards publishers.
“I think publishers will try to have more and more control,” he says. “The idea with native ads is for them to carry the look and feel of the content on the site and if you have less control, it can water down that proposition.”
Similarly, Contently handles much of native content generated by Forbes. But Contently is more of technology platform with a services layer, meanwhile, Original9 is a primarily a services company.
The agency shares its backend functions — like HR and finance — with Launchsquad but has eight full-time editorial led by former journalist Jeffrey Davis and former Yahoo News editor Leah Hitchings. The team also shares video capabilities with Launchsquad, which did $11.3 million in 2013, including revenues from Original9.Original9 is now looking towards hires in paid media expertise to help clients broker deals with publishers — similar to the moves that Edelman and Ketchum recently made. Already, Original9 handles paid amplification via distribution channels like OutBrain and social media.