Dubbed Thinking Big, the Fidelity campaign features videos profiling advances in genetics associated with curated outside content, photo galleries and a series of educational infographics. In another successful campaign, The Atlantic worked with Porsche on a series of slideshows and related articles highlighting achievements in design. Central to the effort is a level of quality equal to what audiences expect from editorial content in The Atlantic.
"So many marketers and publishers are focused on the how and not the what," Lauf says. Whether embedded content or standard IAB ads, he says, the discussion must include the quality of what you're delivering.
Digital, he says, simply provides a "blanker and wider canvas to paint on," a medium especially well-suited to custom content. "But you need to hold a high bar on creative there, and I think the digital medium just gives you a richer tool to be even more impactful if you do content creation and content integration well."
Lauf says walking the line between sponsored and editorial content is not difficult. With print, he notes, advertisers featuring their own content enjoy the same tools as the editorial team when it comes to presentation and exposure—why shouldn't the same be true in digital? "In digital they've been relegated to technical platforms that are separate from one another," he says. "As long as content is properly labeled and signaled as content from an advertiser there is no reason an advertiser cannot validly use those same tools."
"The rule we have here [is] … we are not trying to fool the reader, ever," he adds. "People who come to our site are really smart, really savvy. They can decide for themselves whether it's interesting to watch a video or read a post from Fidelity on synthetic biology."