7 enfoques muy diferentes para el difícil negocio de la publicidad editorial.
La publicidad editorial ya compone la quinta parte de todos los anuncios gráficos digitales en el primer semestre de 2014. Estableciéndose a sí mismos como parte de la propuesta de prensa que ahora ofrecen los editores, que deben buscar los formatos más eficaces y lidiar con cuestiones éticas en torno a cuan “editoriales” esos anuncios puede ser.
Here we’ve taken a look at a variety of different approaches from new and old media businesses:
1. Daily Mail
The Mail’s native ads feature that bold, blue text indicating that an article has been SPONSORED BY a brand looking to capitalise on MailOnline’s huge readerbase. To do so successfully is,according to the Daily Mail’s North America CEO Jon Steinberg (late of BuzzFeed), to take advantage of the editorial practices and process that the Mail already has in place:
“When you come to us, you get everything that makes our editorial product work. This includes our writing style, our headline optimization and access to our homepage, which we optimize obsessively.”
This even extends to having the pieces written by a MailOnline staffer. This blurring of editorial and marketing is, however, a bone of contention with some other publishers. That the print edition is now employing the same approach to native ads has caused journalists like Roy Greenslade to decry this removal of the editorial wall, suggesting that having the first piece of this type be around slavery be a soft, inoffensive lead in to printing native ads in print that could lead to genuine confusion among readers and, ultimately, the loss of credibility for news publishers.
Forbes’ BrandVoice platform launched in 2010 and is an example of just how closely native advertising can mimic a publisher’s genuine editorial content. It even allows its readers to follow the brand writing the content in much the same way that they would follow a topic or journalist.
The content is written exclusively by a representative of the brand. The only real clue a reader has to the nature of the piece once reading it is a sentence at the top announcing it to be BrandVoice content and the option to read a disclaimer explaining what native advertising is – though only when it’s clicked upon. On the homepage the BrandVoice content is given its own section, where it is slightly more clearly marked.
Chances are if you’re looking for an example of native ads, BuzzFeed will spring to mind. Their non-news content, almost exclusively list items or gifs loosely based around a theme, is a seemingly unusual fit for native advertising because there are few brands for whom this type of content is shareable andon-message. To compensate for this, featured content on BuzzFeed is less specifically about one feature of the brand and more about capturing its philosophy.
BuzzFeed’s native ads are written by the brand, and marked both on the homepage and the actual page itself by having the brand and the subheader ‘Brand Publisher’ appear in place of an author’s byline. Their success is largely ascribed to their readiness to adopt native advertising and the shareable nature of their content.
Quartz’s approach to native takes a hardline stance on the division between in-house editorial and ad content. Their approach relies upon transparency, with their EMEA executive director Simon Davies saying:
«Do not try to fool your readers. Users will call you out on it and in a meritocratic world that won’t be good for you.»
As a result their content is clearly labelled with the logo of the brand at the top, a sponsored content sub-header before the text and a disclaimer at the bottom that the piece was written by the brand and not by a member of the Quartz team, making explicit what both BuzzFeed and Forbes hinted at with their byline information. The content itself, however, does closely mirror that of the editorial content, being as visual as possible. Following the approach that «not getting in the user’s» way is paramount, Davies argues that as long as the content is truly native and fully transparent, it can serve your audience well.
5. New York Times
As such the piece was praised for its journalistic quality and content, a far cry from the usual response to native advertising that attempts to ape traditional journalistic quality. By linking the product with a piece of serious journalistic content that in turn offered a new perspective and context to the product, the response was solid. Although, as pointed out in this Digiday article, the prestige of the brand and its own prior investment in interactive content aren’t available to other publishers who may wish to emulate their high-quality native ad strategy.
6. Guardian Labs
At the start of this year, the Guardian launched Guardian Labs, a unit devoted to creating sponsored content (they don’t like the term native). One of their most high-profile projects has been their «seven-figure sum» deal with Unilever, officially launched in February. Their approach seems to be association-based, with Unilever gaining positive brand recognition from the Guardian in general and campaigns like the Live Better Challenge environmental campaign specifically, a project very much in line with the Guardian’s own campaigns. Similarly the Guardian Witness programme, sponsored in a more traditional way by EE, is about that association with editorial content rather than dictating it.
While the content on Guardian Labs is produced in-house, maintaining that firewall between editorial and marketing which detractors of native advertising argue will be eroded by demands from sponsors, the Unilever logois clearly visible. It’s all in service of that paramount transparency which Davies spoke of, and which the managing director of Guardian Labs Anna Watkins has spoken of since her appointment.
7. Washington Post
The Washington Post’s sponsored content takes a wide variety of forms. The most visible, their BrandConnect platform, allows brands to create contentlike this, with the brand name as the byline and largely text content that is clearly an ad. More unusual, though, is their Sponsored Views platform, which essentially allow for a paid comment on a pre-existing opinion piece. In effect, it allows someone to pay for the privilege of the right to reply, in a particularly visible way.
The Post has also launched its first print native ad, distinguishable from ‘advertorial’ content in its placement and form. Extremely visible, it has stillreportedly caused friction with the editorial team over what could be perceived as a gradual reduction in the paper’s credibility.
Despite disquiet over the potential blurring of editorial and advertising, native advertising is here to stay. But could that lead to damage to a publisher’s credibility? A study by content marketing startup Contently demonstrated that over half of an audience felt a publisher would lose credibility by publishing native advertising, and a seperate study by Chartbeat found that when content is discovered by a reader to be a native ad only after they’ve started reading, scroll-down rates fell dramatically to less than a quarter of readers.
However, Quartz’s Simon Davies might have one solution to both those issues, again based around the notion of transparency. He says that knowing your audience and knowing which content appeals to them is of huge importance when deciding which ad content you’ll show them. He claims 86 percent of Quartz’s target audience do not mind receiving sponsored content, because they know it’s clearly labelled as such and has been chosen to be relevent to them.
While good curation of advertising partners is still important in the age of native, what is new is the potential to mislead your audience, and it’s one that news publishers in particular must avoid in case they damage their credibility as a reliable and impartial source.
It’s worth noting that while the new-media, native ad poster child BuzzFeed is very strict about ensuring editorial staff aren’t involved in creating ad content, more traditonal publishers appear more relaxed about some cross over.
Native ads open up publishers to accusations they are beholden to brands, if only because it makes the symbiotic relationship so much more obvious (assuming of course they’re labelled properly).
So while the sheer variety of native ads means ‘best practice’ in terms of form is likely to be different for each publisher, the hard and fast rule is the same as it ever was for ads – respect your audience’s intelligence.