How Wired Launched an Omnichannel Native Ad Program with Nokia
In January of 2015 Wired launched its branded content studio Wired Brand Lab in response to an increased demand from clients for native advertising. Over the course of 12 months, revenue from native advertising surged to account for 20% of Wired’s overall revenue. That growth has continued in 2016. According to Wired's head of marketing Maya Draisin, by the end of February 2016 native advertising revenue at Wired had already matched 2015's full-year revenue from native.
One of Wired’s largest native advertising campaigns, said Draisin during a keynote discussion at Publishing Executive Live: Native Advertising Summit, was its partnership with Nokia and the launch of a massive omnichannel program called “Make Tech Human.” The goal of the campaign was to transform consumers’ perception of Nokia from a handset vendor -- a business unit it sold to Microsoft in 2013 -- into a technology thought leader. “They asked us to help them start a global conversation about how technology is shaping our world and take that in a more human direction,” explained Draisin.
Following are some lessons Wired Brand Lab learned about running a successful, multi-channel native ad campaign.
Partner With Other Platforms
Draisin said that partnering with other brands known in the technology space was imperative to jumpstart this initiative. “If we’re going to start a global conversation about where technology is taking us, this can’t just be a Wired conversation,” said Draisin. So Wired kicked off the “Make Tech Human” campaign with a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. That AMA earned Nokia millions of mentions on social media, and it was the top AMA for one day on Reddit.
Shortly after this partnership, Wired worked with another well-known tech platform, TED, to host a thought leadership dinner. Wired asked thought leaders what excited them and concerned them the most about the future of technology and invited them to write their responses on dinner napkins. Not only did these interviews generate a great deal of content for Wired, in the form of articles, videos, and slideshows, but it also earned the campaign millions of impressions. “TED tweeted about the dinner twice and that gave us 9.8M impressions off the TED channel,” said Draisin.
Use Reader Feedback to Inform Content Strategy
Wired Brand Lab extended the same question it asked TED thought leaders to its audience. Wired readers could fill out their own digital napkins and list their technology hopes and concerns for the future. “We derived from what people wrote five content buckets. These are the five areas that are interesting to our audience, and all of our content for the rest of the year focused on these five areas,” said Draisin.
Wired Brand Lab aggregated this content on a “Make Tech Human” hub on Wired.com, which fit natively into the Wired online experience.
Recognize That Native Is a Circular Process
Draisin said that a native advertising program like “Make Tech Human,” is not a one-and-done project. It required constant communication with the Nokia team to make sure the right KPIs were being met, regular iteration to improve results, and a steady stream of content to engage new readers. Draisin added that publishers cannot simply sell native advertising, post it, and optimize against it. It’s a continuous process that requires working with the client every step of the way to make sure the goals of their campaign are being met. And those goals are not always immediately evident, said Draisin. “If you can get at what they’re after, you will be much more successful. And you must be willing to evolve once what they are after becomes apparent.”