What do you trust more — a review sponsored by a brand that reads like an ad, or one that’s written by an unbiased observer?
For most, it would be the latter — and that’s the entire focus of content marketing company InPowered. It’s developed a platform that lets companies easily find content written about their brands by trusted writers, and it lets them amplify those posts to larger audiences.
Today, InPowered is opening up its platform so that anyone can use it. You can now use the search box on InPowered’s homepage to search for any topic you’d like (or even general keywords), and it will find the most trustworthy content around those topics. Companies can use it to see what people are saying about their products — though they’ll still need to pay to amplify posts. Previously, you’d have to go through a lengthy signup process to test out InPowered’s platform.
“Content marketing and native ads have been heating up in a big way, but it’s been confusing for brands to figure out what works and what doesn’t,” InPowered CEO and cofounder Peyman Nilforoush told VentureBeat. “Nobody has focused on this before, but we fundamentally believe that’s how customers make their decisions. If you actually want to build trust with them, you really want to lead with something unbiased.”
Nilforoush grew up in Iran, where he had no access to information that he actually trusted. He made it his life’s goal to make sure everyday consumers can actually find information that matters to them. In 1999, Nilforoush and his brother Pirouz launched NetShelter, an online ad network that helped spark the rise of blogs (notably, it did so before Google’s AdSense). The brothers sold NetShelter to Ziff Davis in 2011 and spun out InPowered as a separate company with $26 million in venture funding.
“Trusted content should not be something that you search for, it should be something that you have access to and discover organically,” Nilforoush said.
Indeed, the serendipity of the company’s platform is a big part of its usefulness for consumers. Nilforoush tells me that InPowered’s employees have been using it to research big personal purchases, as well as for catching up on news. That’s a sign that there’s a lot of potential for the company’s platform outside of promoting content. It could be a way for consumers to find reviews that matter, rather than sifting through endless Google results.
“I see how much a society struggles, and I see that parallel today where every consumer is just trying to understand what’s happening,” Nilforoush said. “What’s happening in the world? What’s happening in Syria? There’s so much noise; without having the ability to zoom into what’s credible, all the stuff that’s connecting us would not make us very productive.”
Check out a screencast of InPowered’s new platform below: