The proliferation of ‘guest blogging’ over the past 18 months triggered by Google’s relentless algorithm updates has meant that owners of authoritative blogs and content platforms are becoming more and more savvy to the potential revenue opportunities this opens up to them. Equal benefits and ‘gentlemen’s agreements’ when brands seek publishing opportunities are rapidly becoming a thing of the past for guest writing with paid or sponsored blog posts on the increase.

The Huffington Post is one the Internet’s most prolific content publishers; publishing articles every 58 seconds (a few thousand articles a day) across their myriad of topics and categories. Being such a huge online emporium of content, it comes as no surprise that they are consistently looking for more creative ways to generate revenue outside the normal channels of advertising in the form of banners, sponsored posts and links.

Sponsored posts are nothing new; they’ve been around for some time and as mentioned, growing by the week as more blog owners become privy to the revenue potential. A brand typically ‘sponsors’ an individual post which isn’t content generated internally and pays a fee to be recognised as ‘supporting’ that content. In turn this generates brand awareness and affiliation with whatever contextually relevant article they’ve associated themselves with. However, HuffPo have taken this a step further.

HuffPo have now started introducing complete categories which are sponsored by a brand. The most recent of which was a section supported by Cisco. The most interesting concept to this new model is that the content doesn’t have to be purely HuffPo copy. They have the freedom to provide their own original content as well as the curated articles from the HuffPo team.

The shining advantage to this new tactic is that brands don’t have to build their own audience. They can dramatically expedite the process by launching a HuffPo section. Due to the power HuffPo have within search and the sheer popularity of their content, this method gives brands access to millions of readers that already share and talk about the content active on the HuffPo site.

Admittedly the financial accessibility to smaller brands is likely unreachable at the moment, however, it’s very interesting to see how leading content publishers are exploring these new methods. Watching how this develops and evolves in the future is going to be interesting both in terms of the controversy it will cause and the opportunities that it will present, not only to the Coca-Cola’s of the internet but the smaller businesses looking to increase reach and authority in their verticals.