Capital NY Hopes Sponsored Posts From HBO Will Open Doors To Advertisers

Capital New York, the literary and cultural news startup, is expanding its ties to TV in a new promotion for HBO’s documentary of writer Fran Lebowitz. The promotion is in the form of sponsored posts, which will be shown on the site throughout the week. The first set of posts features illustrations by Capital NY’s artists of Lebowitz’s various quips and one-liners. Last August, the online-only publication began working with PBS on a local video venture called City Portraits, which was designed to raise its profile among readers and advertisers.

This is the second set of sponsored posts Capital NY has done since launching in beta in early summer. The first was for the 92nd St. Y, another high-minded cultural institution.Tom McGeveran, Capital NY’s co-founder and editor, said that as a free news site, there was little concern about the use of advertorials. It was a matter of laying down a few simple ground rules.

“From the very beginning, custom content was an element in our business,” McGeveran said. “Why would we do it? The answer is pretty obvious. We’re still building our audience and we have a sense of what sort of content they might be interested in. Whether it comes from us or a sponsor, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s very transparent.”

For example, an event at the 92nd St. Y or a documentary about Fran Lebowitz would likely feel natural to Capital NY readers. So in that sense, a sponsored post by a big car company isn’t necessarily something that the site is looking to partner with. “We will we continue to look for editorial collaborations with sponsors, because it’s important for us not to rely on CPM-based ad sales,” McGeveran said. “You need something more. Still, it’s not a replacement for traditional advertising, as it remains to be seen how scalable sponsored posts are.”

For the most part, Capital NY would consider sponsored posts from entities in the arts & entertainment and cultural areas, and even political ones.

While Capital NY has been steadily attracting attention from marketers over the past few months, HBO took a chance on them simply from the site’s answers to an RFP a few weeks ago. The hope now is that as it promotes the Martin Scorsese-directed documentary, agencies and other marketers will start to notice and approach Capital NY directly.

As for the quote that inspired the illustration at the left? From an old Lebowitz quote: “Children sleep either alone or with small toy animals. The wisdom of such behavior is unquestionable, as it frees them from the immeasurable tedium of being privy to the whispered confessions of others. I have yet to run across a teddybear who was harboring the secret desire to wear a maid’s uniform.”