Why the Rude Baguette is rolling out Sponsored Content

Apr 17, 2013
Vote on Hacker News

I love what I have been able to do with the Rude Baguette for the past year and a half. In the first 9 months, I rejected the idea of putting ads on the site – I wanted the experience to be about reading engaging content, and I felt that ugly display ads lessened the value of the article just by proximity. The Rude Baguette has always been about free access to information about the French tech market, and we have always been about transparency. This is why I wanted to explain to readers a bit about why we’re doing Sponsored Content on the site starting this week.

We knew from the beginning that content was always going to be free to view, but we were skeptical of Sponsored Content due to the bad reputation that Advertorials like that of The Atlantic’s this past year with the Church of Scientology. We also knew that we wanted to keep our editorial line pure, so we needed to define really clearly how we were going to keep things transparent, keep things fair, and, most of all, keep the reader experience unharmed. We came up with a Sponsored Content Manifesto of sorts – a few rules to make sure that our Sponsored Content is 100% transparent:

Our 5 Rules for Sponsored Content

  1. Our Editorial Line is to cover the French Market, and we will always cover Organic Buzz in the French tech market – whether it’s a startup raising money or a foreign startup launching in France, this is news that we have an obligation to deliver to our readers, and we will never disobey the trust readers put in the Rude Baguette to deliver this news unabashed and free
  2. We will always clearly mark Sponsored Content as such above and below the article, as well as clearly indicating any link from social media or in our site as such. Our Sponsors are not trying to trick you into reading about them or clicking a link, they are here to say “hey, we paid for you to read this article. We hope you enjoy”
  3. Sponsored Content will always be written by a Rude Baguette writer, and our writers will be responsible for every fact, opinion, and spin put on a story – paid or otherwise.
  4. The Rude Baguette will never publish more than 10% of our content as Sponsored Content – that is, if we publish 10 articles a day, there will never be more than 1 article that is sponsored.
  5. Sponsored Content will never be solely about the Sponsor, though it may mention the Sponsor in the article. Our content is meant to add value, and we will work with sponsors to take their knowledge, their expertise in their sector, and abstract value that our users will find interesting and compelling.

With these rules, we hope to create even more engaging and cutting-edge articles than we are doing now, while maintaining an entirely free news service. I personally don’t believe that, given the unique positioning we have with respect to our language and market coverage, we can afford to push potential readers away with a paywall. Our goal is to increase transparency between France and the rest of the world, and we can only do that through free and open news.

Our focus with Sponsored Content will be foreign companies launching in France. As mentioned above, we will always cover their launch in France – it’s Organic News – however, as with any new market, there is a dip after the initial buzz, and with such little visibility in France, we want to provide a way for foreign companies to maintain visibility in the French tech market. And as they are not producing Organic News (because they are just launching), we think the best thing they can offer our audience is their expertise, and our writers will help them find a compelling way to demonstrate that expertise to our audience.

In addition to Sponsored Content, you’ll notice we still do display ads on the site – I believe that, historically, display ads have been a great way to alert blog readers about sector events, and I don’t want to get rid of that. With Sponsored Content, we can free up our ad space in order to keep you informed about upcoming events that matter to you. We are also hosting our own events (which we may show you in our display ads, or on the events calendar on the left-hand side of the page), which is another channel to use for local and foreign companies interested in getting visibility in the French tech market. Our first sponsored event already features foreign & local companies, and we hope to continue this as we grow and pursue our vision.

If you think our Sponsored Content is being fluffy, call us out. If you think we’re covering a former ad partner more than someone else because they paid us in the past, call us out. If you think Sponsored Content is wrong, don’t read the sponsored posts. We will never try to trick, force, and impose upon you content that you don’t want to read, and we hope that you will find that our Sponsored Content is just as engaging as our other content. Our writers will never work with companies they don’t feel they could defend in an argument, and I feel that we can create an intimate relationship between sponsors and the reader such that, instead of despising the ads on a site that you feel are taking advantage of your curiosity, you’ll find that sponsors are enabling you to read valuable content that you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

If you have any questions or comments about Sponsored Content or any sponsoring with the Rude Baguette, or would like to find out our prices, contact us at sponsorship@rudebaguette.com