Native Advertising Has to Smell Right
This article originally appeared as part of Native Advertising: Soap Opera For The Digital Age in the December issue of Publishing Executive.
Many publishers, concerned with maintaining a strong church-and-state divide between editorial and sales, have started erecting native content divisions internally (Gawker, The Onion) or working with outside content providers. Contently is one such provider, offering an online platform that connects publishers and content creators, such as journalists and designers. Sam Slaughter, VP of content at Contently, thinks keeping native advertising production separate should be a priority for publishers because it will help maintain editorial brands, lead to better content and generate more revenue for publishers. Here are Slaughter's thoughts on producing effective native advertising.
The church-state divide prevents the muddying of the editorial waters, says Slaughter. "It's important for a publisher to have an independent editorial voice and for that to be the reality and the perception. That's a publication's value. That's why people read it-because they think that the opinions are going to be unbiased. The way to achieve that is to keep editorial in its own place and let it do what it thinks is right without being influenced by the people on the ad team."
A dedicated content marketing team will also ensure publishers can produce the kind of native content that advertisers will benefit from. "The reason it has to be good is because for the advertiser to get some benefit from it, it has to have a positive impact on the reader. If an advertiser writes something that a reader hates, then it's bad advertising. And it can't be salesy. That means you can't have ad people writing it-you have to have real journalists writing."
As far as risks, Slaughter thinks that if there's transparency about who's creating what, readers will be satisfied. "Nobody wins if there's ambiguity," says Slaughter. The advertiser certainly doesn't win. The publisher doesn't win. The reader doesn't win. And everybody does win when the sponsored stuff is clearly labeled as sponsored stuff and it's good."
Related story: Soap Operas for the Digital Age
Denis Wilson was previously content director for Target Marketing, Publishing Executive, and Book Business, as well as the FUSE Media and BRAND United summits. In this role, he analyzed and reported on the fundamental changes affecting the media and marketing industries and aimed to serve content-driven businesses with practical and strategic insight. As a writer, Denis’ work has been published by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The New York Times.