The Birth Of MeaningfulContent.Org

Why Sharethrough is investing $1 million to make the Internet a better place

Sharethrough
Jul 31, 2014 · 4 min read

Last week, at our Native Ad Summit, we announced the launch of a new initiative called MeaningfulContent.org.

MeaningfulContent.org is a philanthropic venture from Sharethrough that’s helping storytelling evolve. By putting paid distribution dollars behind the web’s best stories, we hope to shift the focus of the Internet and its users toward content that enriches our lives.

This group emerged in response to two primary observations of the state of content online. First, the team recognized a burgeoning movement of storytellers embracing new digital tools to create meaningful narratives. The second is the realization that many of these stories are being drowned out by cat GIFs, “10 Things You Never Knew” listicles and various other forms of clickbait. The goal of MeaningfulContent.org is to find the best, underappreciated digital storytelling and help it rise above the clutter.

How are we doing that?

Introducing, the “Meaningful Content Fund.”

The Meaningful Content Fund, is our million dollar, put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is investment to share the web’s best stories across premium publisher sites. Powered (and funded) by Sharethrough, this effort both promotes selected content and uses Sharethrough’s industry-leading technology to glean insight into how people ascribe meaning to content.

Meet the Advisory Board

The Meaningful Content Fund Advisory Board—a group of tech and media entrepreneurs who want to nurture this movement—work with our team of curators to hand-pick the web’s best stories. The advisory board evaluates content on four criteria:

  • Connection with the subject matter
  • Original thought
  • Advancement of ideas
  • Depth of engagement

Then, the best stories are awarded distribution grants from the MCF, which come in the form of paid distribution of content onto premium publisher sites by the Sharethrough Exchange. The data from the platform is then used to make data-driven analysis on why each story resonates.

It’s all about the creators

This is an email we received from a creator whose content was awarded an MCF distribution grant

The MCF hopes to benefit all Internet users by surfacing content that enriches our lives, but the creators are the real heart and soul of the project.

For example, Kurt Shaw is the Executive Director of Shine a Light, an organization that teaches digital arts to marginalized children all over Latin America, to tell their stories firsthand. His piece Stimulant of the Masses was seen by over 19,000 additional people after promotion on MeaningfulContent.org.

After independent filmmaker Paul Emerson’s short film “Donation” received 17,000 additional impressions after MCF distribution, he expressed his genuine appreciation in the email above. Hopefully, the Fund’s paid distribution will give these projects the jump start they need to receive the audience they deserve.

The Meaningful Content Roundtable

Dan Greenberg, Tony Haile, James Buckhouse and Alice Truong speaking on the Meaningful Content Roundtable at the Native Advertising Summi

A few of our Advisors sat down at the Summit to discuss the future of storytelling and MeaningfulContent.org’s role in promoting digital innovation. “The way we’ve been valuing content is oddly wrong,” said Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile. “Through the MCF we’re trying to identify under-appreciated content—not just what can go viral, but what people are actually spending time and engaging with.”

James Buckhouse, head of innovation and growth at Twitter, believes “meaning can be a function of change. Having MCF to share these stories is making us think about what we’re sending out to the rest of the world — are we sending bad stories or stories that inspire people?” As a former animator at Dreamworks, story is truly in Buckhouse’s DNA. “I got excited about this because I love stories and I love to see them get the love they deserve.”

“In an ideal world, this fund wouldn’t have to exist,” Haile said. “In an ideal world, great quality content wouldn’t need this push, but so many of the stories you hear about are the lowest common denominator.” The MCF is helping digital storytelling evolve.

See the Winners at MeaningfulContent.org

Go to MeaningfulContent.org for a list of winners, and submit your favorite stories & videos for consideration.

A snapshot from the MeaningfulContent.org homepage

We at Sharethrough are incredibly excited by this project and helping to uncover the truths behind why certain stories resonate. If you want to get involved in or inspired by the meaningful content movement, check out meaningfulcontent.org and the Fast Company feature: “The Million-Dollar Play To Make The Internet More Meaningful.”

Let’s create a better Internet, together.

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