Each quarter Nudge looks into Native content within all categories to find out which content styles and publishers perform the best. It’s a chance to see what others are doing within your category and take learnings for your next campaign.

For reviewing all content we’ve used the Nudge diagnostic. This is a tool that can be found at giveitanudge.com to find shares, estimated earned impressions and estimated media value. If you’d like to suggest a category for review please drop me a line at [email protected]


This review covers the below for Food and Drink:

– Content format

– Publisher performance

– Social Insights

– Best practice

– Learnings

– Key takeaways

– Further reading


Food and Drink Research Report

For this report we’ve split out the research into content styles and major publishers to look at not just the format of content but some of the leading publishers within this category to find trends and learnings.

The below graph shows where content styles sit looking at engagement and estimated attention minutes (based on Nudge’s dataset from the full product).


Content Formats 

Definitions and Examples

Custom Feature: Something a little different from the layout of the rest of the site. Normally includes parallax, video and an interactive element.

List: A content format which follows a numbered list. Can include images and text.

Video & Article: A video featured on a publishers site including an article write up.

Article:  The most common form of native content. Normally follows the article layout of the sites editorial content.

Recipe: An article laid out in a recipe format.

Slideshow: A slideshow of images including opening copy and copy with most slides.

Video: A video featured on a publishers site. Normally includes a paragraph of text from the publisher.

As we can see here the Custom Feature is the most engaging format for this category, winning not just in high engagement but also high attention. The List format also continues to do well within this category. Video’s with Articles and standalone Articles also continue to be top performers in this category.

However, Recipe’s which we would have assumed as being both winners in attention and engagement aren’t performing as well as the standard formats. Slideshows have dropped in engagement which is likely due to not as much promotion. Video’s by themselves continue to not be top performers within any category.

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Upworthy is the top publisher within this category. It’s followed by Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Gawker Media, Complex, The Onion and Time Inc.

For the first time since we’ve started creating these reports we’ve seen BuzzFeed not be in the top half of this graph. Business Insider and SheKnows Media are the lowest performing publishers within this category.


Social Insights

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Facebook made up for 79% of all shares for this category. StumbleUpon came second with 12% and Pinterest with 8%. Though Pinterest is definitely a needed social option for this category from past Nudge campaigns we know that Facebook still brings in 5x more earned impressions than Pinterest. Pinterest is great for increased engagement and getting your brand within recipe boards but Facebook will help to significantly increase your reach for that secondary audience.


We’ll review each of the content formats to see if there’s any insights from sharing stats:

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  • Custom Feature is the best format for high Pinterest shares.
  • All other formats within this category find most of their engagement happening on Facebook.
  • The Article format had the highest Twitter shares.
  • Overall Twitter isn’t a strong platform for this category.
  • Custom Feature and Article had the highest StumbleUpon shares.
  • Pinterest shares on Recipe’s are low showing that more sites need to optimise towards this platform for increased engagement on this format.


Best Practice

Publisher: Pure Wow

Brand: Sargento Tastings

Content Format: Custom Feature

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This custom feature for Sargento Tastings is a visually attractive piece of content that provides readers with innovative and mouth-watering snack recipes. What’s most engaging with this content is the imagery and layout. Each recipe is easy to share by pinning it on Pinterest, and by choosing “salty” or “sweet” at the top you will be shown different recipes. Interaction with the reader like this increases attention minutes and the simplicity of both design and content enhances the probability of the reader to share. Food is really all about look, and these colourful pictures are definitely catching the readers attention. No surprise this custom feature is the overall best performer and had over 21.6K shares on Pinterest alone.


Publisher: Elite Daily

Brand: Vita Coco Cafe

Content Format: List

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With close to 25K shares, this List in Elite Daily provided by Vita Coco Café looks at seven reasons why coffee is the best. Vita Coco Café is only mentioned in a banner at the top of the piece but since the entire article is content-relevant to the brand, the connection works perfectly. Both picture, headline and content speaks to the audience of Elite Daily and the list is built in a way that encourages you to share (especially if you’re a coffee addict). When creating a list within the food category you should think about how to write about something that is relevant to the brand, but that still speaks to the reader as an individual. Food nowadays is about culture and personality, and by the food and drink choices we make we are also creating an image. Create content that the reader would want to share in order to build on that image.


Publisher: Upworthy

Brand: Tillamook

Content Format: Video & Article

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This piece is a combined video and article post in Upworthy promoted by Tillamook dairy. The video gives you a look at the “ true American farmer life”, giving the reader a feeling of what the brand stands for. The content for both the video and the text in the article speaks to you about authenticity and value in a world where we are surrounded by factory food and fake ingredients. It puts the brand in a good position from showcasing both the farmer’s point of view and the consumers. It’s a topic that is relevant and that people are concerned about – fake food. The video provides a great story that everyone wants to believe in and share, the length of the video is just about right. They chose to also describe the video in text and pictures, this may have been because they wanted to enhance the probability of the reader staying on the page and also giving them a choice of what they prefer. Text or video.


Publisher: PopSugar

Brand: Jell-O

Content Format: Recipe

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This is a fun and easy recipe that gives parents an alternative to spice up their family movie nights at home. It’s fairly straightforward and the pictures look fun and appealing and the recipe is easy to adopt. Recipes like this are great due to the incredibly active online parenting communities, blogs and social pages. The connection for Jell-O is clear as it’s one of the main ingredients and that it’s promoted by them doesn’t feel false. A good way to create native content that fits with the surrounding environment but that has a very clear connection to the brand.



  • Food nowadays is about culture and personality, and by the food and drink choices we make we are also creating a personal image. Creating content that the reader wants to share in order to build on that image will increase your connection with the publisher and also your chances of increased engagement with those readers.
  • Simple and beautiful layouts within this category are the best way to get your product across and by making sure you have the right social sharing functionality can help increase your engagement significantly.
  • Recipe’s by themselves weren’t a top performer with this category, however, some of the custom features included recipes and these did by outperform the other formats. Showing that recipes are always a great way to approach food and drink, but that they need to be done innovatively to succeed.
  • Though Pinterest only made up for 8% of overall shares, it was interesting to see that the recipe format on sites only had 3% of their shares on Pinterest. The majority of these sites hadn’t optimised for Pinning with this format.


Key Takeaways

  • Custom Feature’s and Lists are the most engaging formats.
  • Video’s are the least engaging format within this category.
  • Recipe’s do perform well but surprisingly are not within the top engaging formats.
  • This is BuzzFeed’s lowest performance to date within these research reports (though it still performs above many of the mainstream publishers)
  • Upworthy, Huffington Post and Elite Daily are the top publishers for this category.
  • Easy sharing functionality is a must within this category. Especially Pin It buttons.
  • Facebook is the main social platform for sharing on this category.


More Native Reading

Why you need quality metrics – the ROI of native content

Native content – sponsored content hubs

Engagement and attention – you need both

A closer look at attention metrics 

August Campaign of the Month: Budweiser & Munchies


If you’d like assistance in planning your buy, schedule a call with Hollie to see how Nudge can help:

[email protected]

+1 (778) 680-3127

Food and Drink Research Report – Nudge, a smart dashboard for your content