The standard posture for publishers on the web is to remain neutral on the kind of advertising you allow on your site. As a media company that often calls out the advertising industry's worst practices, we didn't really think that'd work for us. So we decided to go our own way with something we're calling Upworthy Collaborations.
The idea is that we'll work directly with brands to find the best content about an issue or set of issues that matter to them and to our world. This will result, we hope, in an experience that feels as engaging and meaningful as anything else you'd find on Upworthy — except it will be clearly labeled with the brand that paid for it. We hope it'll be not just a way for us to call out the bad stuff some companies do (though we'll definitely still do that) but also a way for us to celebrate brands that share our values and are attempting to do good out in the world.
It's a higher bar than the one most media companies set, and hey, we're not saying it's going to be easy. But we think it's going to be worth it. Here are some of the internal standards we've set up for who we'll work with and how:
We gather as much information as possible — from a company's environmental impact to their labor practices. We use sources like Charity Navigator, CSR Hub, GoodGuide, and others.
Are they actually putting their money where their mouth is? Are they engaging in honest-to-goodness efforts to make the world a better place? We go to pretty great lengths (short of on-the-ground factory inspections) to make sure their brand claims check out.
You'll never see us collaborate on a project that's meant purely to cover up and distort actual misdeeds a company is perpetrating. For example: We won't work with a brand that, say, dumps metric tons of oil into a biodiverse body of water and wants our help to explain how it's cleaning it up. We'll stay away from projects that are more hype than substance. We're not interested in projects that a brand is putting minimal effort into just to say it's doing something good in the world.
If you think we've crossed the line with a specific collaboration, we want to hear about it. Email us at email@example.com. Tweet at us @Upworthy. Write a comment on our Facebook page. Pin a patently disapproving image on our Pinterest board. Make your feelings perfectly clear on our Tumblr page. We're all ears. And let us know if you like one of our collaborations — we'll definitely take that too.
We think finding and seizing opportunities like this — with brands that are making good-faith efforts at making the world a better place — is the best way for Upworthy to grow and realize our mission to draw massive amounts of attention to the topics that matter most. But getting this right is incredibly important to us. At the end of the day, your trust in us is what allows us to do this work. Without that, we've got nothing. No check — no matter how comically large — is worth that tradeoff.