As publishers search for new ways to monetize both their desktop and mobile publications, native advertising has emerged as a viable and exciting option. However, many publishers have wrestled with the thought of bringing the forever-separate worlds of advertising and editorial closer together. Will it really improve the user experience? How will it be disclosed? How big of a role should a publications editors play in sponsored content?
The Native Advertising Summit panel, titled “Beyond Church and State” and moderated by Fast Company’s managing editor Terresa Iezzi, will discuss many of these questions. But before we kick off the discussion on Wednesday, lets take a look at two trends that highlight the undeniable convergence of brands and publishers.
Brands Thinking Like Publishers
As publishers pin their business models on native inventory, it is allowing agencies and brands creative leeway to think outside the “banner box” — fostering a new era in creative development. This means that agencies must be thinking about a wide range of content, including serialized videos, awesome sponsored posts, photo feeds, meme-jacks and branded music playlists.
Much of the creative know-how to achieve this already exists within agencies, but many have also created roles such as earned media directors, real-time copywriters, and content producers.
These individuals help weave editorial’s strong points into the branded content creation process, such as real-time storytelling, long-form writing, and the inclusion of content that lends itself to social network sharing. Strategies that help make up a concept known as ”newsroom marketing” (Newsroom marketing was evangalized by companies like Virgin).
Publishers Thinking Like Brands
As Upworthy’s Peter Koechley will talk about during his Native Advertising Summit presentation, “WHOA: Click Here For The Shocking True Story Of A Publisher That Thinks Like An Advertiser”, it is not just brands who are taking cues from editors, but vice versa. In our headline-focused, article-skimming culture, publishers are now using attention-grabbing techniques deployed by brand marketers, such as creating great content teasers (Brand example: Mini’s Backflip; publisher example: most of the headlines and descriptions on Upworthy) and humorous articles and videos (Brand example: Dollar Shave Club; publisher example: Guardian & Observer). When you think about these examples and other successful marketing campaigns (Budweiser, Nike, and Old Spice come to mind immediately), the thought of trying to borrow brands strategies to drive attention to editorial content might not be such a bad idea.
Beyond Church and State
No one can speak to a site’s audience like its editors and writers. Recognizing this, a number of media companies have created teams dedicated to the creation of custom content for brand customers. Are we now in a world where ads truly are content? What are the ingredients to create sponsored content that people widely share and enjoy? What does the relationship between pure editorial content and sponsored posts look like in the future? Leading publishers will discuss where the new lines are being drawn and debate the effect on journalistic integrity.
Teressa Iezzi – Writer and Editor, Fast Company
James Del – Executive Director, Gawker
Paul Greenberg – CEO, CollegeHumor Media
Kimberly Lau – VP and General Manager, The Atlantic Digital
Eddy Moretti – CCO, VICE
Lastly, If you want to take a look at some of the leading publishers who are experimenting with native ads, make sure to check out “The Native Adscape” for a holistic view of the native advertising landscape.