New youth title aims to break mould with single-ad, mobile-led strategy

Youth publisher Sound Alliance aims to flip web publishing on its head with the launch of a new mobile-first, one-ad-per-page pop culture title offering advertisers integrated content options.

Junkee, a site aimed at bringing a more discerning pop culture voice to the youth audience, will adopt a ‘native advertising’ model by offering options that integrate ads into the site’s editorial and aesthetics.

The model is similar to that operated by social news site BuzzFeed, which reportedly charges around $100,000 for four or five pieces of branded content. US-based news site Gawker also offers native, or tightly integrated, ad options.

Junkee will limit banner advertising to one ad per page and design its desktop and tablet properties to look similar to its mobile site, which it estimates will initially account for 50% of its 18 to 29 year-old traffic.

Sound Alliance CEO Neil Ackland believes that, contrary to popular opinion, the youth audience will engage with advertising online, provided it’s relevant and interesting.

“Online advertising generally has become commoditised and cluttered and has done a poor job of delivering a strong branding message,”Ackland says. “Junkee.com is a product that moves us in a different direction.

“We talk to advertisers all the time and the message is loud and clear, they want to engage with audiences by creating compelling, shareable content – not just banner advertising. What brands do, rather than what they say, is becoming the message, especially when targeting 18-29 year olds.”

Launch advertisers for the new title, which will sit alongside FasterLouder, inthemix, SameSame and other titles under Sound Alliance’s million-viewers-per-month network, include Telstra, Rekorderlig Cider and QT Hotel.

Junkee aims to offer youth a “fresh take on pop culture with smart, funny and insightful pieces from some of Australia’s best established and up-and-coming writers”. It’s positioned as a “cultured take on culture”, covering TV, film, politics, music, style and opinion.

Mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic across Sound Alliance’s titles in recent months, meaning the publisher boasts 500,000 plus monthly unique browsers via mobile channels. “This is a profound shift in user behaviour, which will only accelerate, so we are fully embracing the change in our product design, content and advertising model,” Ackland says.

“We’ve flipped the traditional approach to web publishing on its head so we can attract the audience where we know they are – on mobile.”

Sound Alliance claims the site is the first media title in Australia to adopt a mobile-led design strategy, as well as the first to introduce one ad per page and native advertising philosophies.