Why IGN Made a Big Bet on Native Advertising
“Video gamers are some of the biggest ad blockers ever,” said Arvind Jayaram, former director of ad products at IGN Entertainment, a Ziff Davis-owned company covering entertainment and video games through events, video programming, and online news. The statement encapsulates one of the biggest challenges the IGN site faces — diminishing advertising revenue in the face of ad blocking. And it’s a challenge many more publishers will face as ad block usage grows apace. To combat potential revenue declines, IGN strove to deliver an ad experience that its readers would actually enjoy and engage with. The solution, said Jayaram, was native advertising.
Before launching its native program, IGN sold what it calls “integrated solutions,” which are editorial-created pieces of content sponsored by an advertiser. But the publisher wanted to develop a more premium product where clients would have complete creative control. That led IGN to create its own native advertising department, separate from editorial, where writers and project managers work with clients to craft engaging content that deliver a brand message. The goal, said Jayaram, was to bypass ad blockers, attract new clients, and build a completely new revenue stream.
How IGN Built Its Native Team
In order to scale, IGN needed to create a dedicated native advertising department and support that team with technology that would streamline native content creation. In the video below, Jayaram explains how that team came together.
There were plenty of hurdles IGN had to overcome to make its native program a success. For example, salespeople needed training on how to sell native advertising. Here’s how Jayaram and his team overcame some of these challenges:
What’s Next for IGN
Jayaram said that IGN’s native advertising program must constantly evolve to meet client’s unique needs. He said that better native advertising analytics and more flexible design templates are some of the features IGN plans to offer clients.
Related story: 5 Ways to Improve Native Ads While Maintaining Reader Trust