Business Insider and GE team up on sponsored vertical

For those craving more news and information on the rapidly evolving world of robotics, big data and the “industrial internet,” Business Insider and General Electric now have you covered. The two companies have launched Digital Industry Insider, a new section on focused on covering the health, energy and transportation industries.

Digital Industry Insider‘s aim is to spotlight industrial businesses, but in the BI mold: Using a combination of original reports, video and even listicles and aggregated pieces to demonstrate these companies are being transformed by new and emerging technologies. For instance, at launch, visitors can read an article on how big data and the industrial internet can help Southwest Airlines cut fuel costs, or a video on the two coolest robots at a Tesla factory.

“We’re a digital-industrial company — one that’s as focused on big iron as it is on big data,” said Linda Boff, GE’s CMO. “And as we think about our future as well as that of the industry, part of what we want to do is help define it by bringing forth stories about industry.”

Business Insider has assembled a five-person team from its branded content division to create content for Digital Industry Insider. At the same time, a group within GE will oversee the vertical from the brand’s end, though the number of people GE actually has on the project at any given time will fluctuate depending on the week.

But while Digital Industry Insider’s goal is to spotlight the industry, it’s still an effort underwritten by GE, which means the brand will have final say over the content. The Digital Industry Insider team will be following guidelines created by GE, which also will dictate which events are covered, the companies said.

But while GE is funding the project, it’s not requiring that its brand and products get all of the attention, said Boff. “The industrial internet will be bigger than the consumer internet,” said Boff. “We know we have an important role to play in that but we know it’s bigger than just GE.”

GE is no stranger to experimenting with different types of advertising. In years past, the brand has launched a policy news hub pulling in content from the likes of Vox and CNN. It has even created a TV show.

In partnering with BI for Digital Industry Insider, GE seems to be latching onto a new trend. Thrillist’s new cocktails site Supercall is an advertiser-driven publication created by a publisher’s branded content arm, for example  In this case, Supercall is considered an independent editorial site that’s created by Thrillist’s branded content arm, and which also will run advertisers’ branded content. Along with Supercall, Time Inc. similarly launched The Drive, an auto enthusiast publication, from a unit called The Foundry, which is charged with launching new editorial verticals and content marketing for brands.

Digital Industry Insider will primarily focus on covering major industry events starting with this week’s Farnborough International Airshow. This means on-the-ground reporting of the latest news and trends at these events, as well as features on the latest industry leaders and product innovations. In-between these major events, the section will be populated with daily content, including relevant older editorial posts from other Business Insider verticals.

Going in the other direction, Digital Industry Insider posts will be distributed on Tech Insider, labeled as sponsored content, as well as the publication’s U.K. and German websites. Distribution will also include social pages for those properties as well as relevant GE accounts.

While Digital Industry Insider is meant to be a resource and cheerleader for the growth of the industrial internet, it’s ultimately a project paid for by GE, which currently plans to fund the vertical through the end of the year.

“A metric that we will pay a great deal of attention to is whether the engagements — whether that’s views, shares or what have you — actually turn into leads,” said Boff. Posts will be tagged and tracked to see whether the effort is leading to new customers. “At the end of the day, we want to drive awareness of what we’re doing, but we also want to drive sales,” said Boff.

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