Your Brand’s Reach on Flipboard: Case Studies with Intel & Merrill Lynch

Business Blog / June 15, 2015


In February, we launched Promoted Story on Flipboard. In keeping with our style of advertising, this product fits right into the normal reading experience by presenting a promoted story as users flip through their feeds. And it turns out, when you add great content from a brand into a feed of related stories, people not only like it, but they share it—a lot.

At Flipboard, we have been fortunate to work with fantastic brands across every category, from luxury jewelry to stylish cars. To date, most of these brands have created engaging content experiences by collecting content they create or that they feel tells their brand story into Flipboard Brand Magazines. Brand Magazines give a voice to brands, letting them tell their stories with articles, images and videos. And now brands are using Promoted Story to drive readers to their Brand Magazines.

We went live at launch with a handful of partners, and now that some of these initial campaigns have come to an end, we’re excited to reveal some of the results.

Two of the brands we worked with, Intel and Merrill Lynch, are companies on the cutting edge of content marketing with articles covering a wide array of topics. Intel focuses on innovation stories around science, health and technology across various Flipboard magazines. Merrill Lynch publishes stories on the global economy and financial trends in their Life. Priorities. magazine.

In building these campaigns each company curated content into their respective brand magazines and from there they selected stories to be featured in our interest channels. Intel’s stories ran in our technology and business channels and Merrill Lynch’s in the news and business channels. For readers, it was clear that the stories were sponsored by these brands as you can see in the following examples:


(Sample Promoted Item Ads)

Compelling Content Drives Results

The results were exciting, especially as compared to other places where brands promote their content. The campaigns averaged a click-through rate of 4% and the click-through rate on individual Promoted Story varied from 1.5% to 9.0%. The promoted articles were clearly resonating with our users, and it was apparent that stories such as “The Coming Water Crisis…And What We Can Do to Solve It” by Merrill Lynch (8.6% CTR) and “Top 6 Science Inventions You Probably Haven’t Heard Of” by Intel (8.7% CTR) were big winners.

Because Flipboard’s readers go deep on areas they’re interested in, brands have an opportunity to really connect with their target audience.

Luke Kintigh, Intel Content and Media strategist, points out: “By creating content that meets the editorial expectations of its users and combining it with the right targeting, iQ content was immensely successful on Flipboard. With these strong campaign results, Flipboard has proven to be a valuable partner in our larger effort to effectively spread iQ content to new high-growth formats and environments.”

Virality of Flipboard Amplified Engagement

Beyond the click, the pattern that emerged showed the brands achieving high levels of what we call “engagement amplification.” Flipboard readers not only found the content appealing to read, but also worthy enough to share with friends, “like” the stories, and even add them into their own Flipboard magazines.

We saw engagement actions initially on the Promoted Story ad, but the viral engagement extended the reach beyond paid placement as the shares, likes and flips into user magazines spread the content to other users. We observed organic engagement taking place on these shared and curated items, adding earned engagement to the initial interaction on the paid promotion.

In the charts below we see the accumulation of the social engagement each brand achieved during the campaign on Flipboard. Users, who saw the promoted content, shared it with friends on Flipboard as well as via email, text messaging and other social networks. And in some cases, the shared stories were re-shared to a level equal to or larger than the number of organic shares, creating a really strong earned media effect.

Because Flipboard has social actions built into its platform, the brands amplified the exposure of their content way beyond what they spent on promoting the articles.



Paid Leads to Earned—the Power of Curation on Flipboard

We saw a similar effect when users flipped the promoted content into their own Flipboard Magazines. The articles were subsequently organically discovered by other users and re-flipped into more Flipboard Magazines. Overall, 24% and 17% of Merrill Lynch’s total shares came from earned reach. In other words, Flipboard users liked the articles so much they provided distribution for them by curating them into their own Flipboard Magazines.


The early results illustrate that promoted content from brands thrives on Flipboard. Kintigh from Intel continues, “We’re big believers in pushing our content to audiences where they live in today’s fragmented digital ecosystem. The proliferation of mobile content consumption has forced us to rethink and transform our content distribution strategy. To this end, Flipboard represented a great way to reach and engage the mobile audience.”

What we’ve discovered is that brands, just like the great publishers that share stories everyday on Flipboard, can find a really engaged and interested audience on Flipboard.

Flipboard is the place where great content—from all sources—can be discovered, appreciated, curated and shared. We are extremely excited about the early results and the future of this product as a way for great brands with great content to reach millions of readers.

~DaveH, Head of Ad Product, is curating “Into the Wild