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Sephora and other brands make use of Flipboard's new integrated content stream Storyboard

Sephora is natively blending its ads into the flow of magazine and blog content ahead of its holiday sales event within the application Flipboard, which is known to keep in line with the beauty retailer's audience. 

The cosmetics brand is one of the first big names to make use of the new feature, but others are following. Sephora is hoping to make use of Storyboard to let their advertisements sit naturally and non-intrusively among Flipboard users' content streams.

"Storyboard enables advertisers to deliver an engaging and visually appealing storytelling experience consisting of multiple components?including articles, images, animated .gifs, video, and audio," said Nicole McCormack, head of sales strategy at Flipboard. "The immersive nature of the unit allows for a complete narrative to be told in a powerful and impactful way. 

"For readers, Storyboard is aesthetically pleasing and non-intrusive, and the content of the advertisements is based on their individual interests powered by Flipboard?s proprietary Interest Graph technology. The ad they?re seeing is not only beautiful, but it appeals to their true passions and interests."

Flipboard is known primarily for its aesthetically pleasing and seamless flow of content, presented in a continuous stream of stories and posts that can be easily flipped through, saved and shared.

It is a pleasant experience for users, but such seamless flows of content can be soured by a misplaced or glaring ad that breaks up the flow.

In response, marketers have been attempting to work their advertisements into the users? content streams without interrupting or dampening the experience, blending their ads in with the standard content in a non-intrusive way. Applications such as Pinterest have been working on this strategy for a while now.

Flipboard?s solution to this problem is Storyboard, a flippable carousel of targeted content that blends seamlessly with other non-sponsored content. Flipboard has done research that shows that customers are more likely to engage with and be comfortable with content that does not distract or intrude against the overall browsing experience.

Flipboard also wants marketers to use Storyboard to connect with consumers in their ?personal primetime,? a time when they are most susceptible to targeted posts and most likely to engage with them.

Sephora is taking advantage of Storyboard by integrating its holiday shopping campaign, ?Tis the season, love is the reason, let?s beauty together,? into Flipboard?s new ad experience.

Users who flip through Storyboard, in addition to seeing the stories they would normally find, will now also see sponsored holiday-themed posts from Sephora smoothly integrated into their regular stream.

Flipboard?s internal algorithm will handle the integration, seamlessly inserting branded content into the regular stream of articles, images and videos that Flipboard users would normally see.

Desired content
Along with Storyboard, the company is introducing a new gesture to the user interface, allowing users not just to flip up and down through stories, but to flip right to expand the story ? something that marketers can take advantage of by having the expansion take users to a purchasing page or to learn more about the featured content or product.

Flipboard is unique among social media apps, as it is focused less on connection to other users and more on the personal interests of the main user. That means it has a higher potential for targeting, since the user is constantly giving new data on what kind of content they like to see (see story).

Storyboard is taking advantage of that by integrating sponsored content into the other kinds of content that the Flipboard user would be looking at anyway. By combining the two in a non-intrusive way, brands can put their message in front of a customer who is actually seeking it out, rather than making it a barrier to the content he or she is actually trying to see.

"Storyboard is the first ad unit that gives brands multiple screens to tell a story and also introduces a new gesture on Flipboard: swiping left and right," Ms. McCormack said. "We have other units that let brands combine multiple assets, such as Promoted Collection, but that?s a unit that takes up a single screen. 

"The same is true for a single Promoted Story, Promoted Video, or full screen ad (akin to a magazine ad)?you can tap on these units to see more, but they are shown individually. Storyboard lets brand put that all in one place."