Native Advertising: Soap Operas for the Digital Age
Whatever you call it, the trend appears to be pointing to a world where native advertising is more prevalent, if not the norm, and publishers are eager to understand it and implement it so it is a source of steady revenue and without doing damage to their own brands. However, along with these new avenues also come concerns about whether editorial standards will be maintained, especially online, where folks tend to play fast and loose.
Protect the Brand
Above all, publishers are determined to maintain the credibility of their editorial brands or else jeopardize the trust of their readers. "The most crucial thing for the Foreign Affairs brand is to maintain seriousness, authority and quality," says Lynda Hammes, publisher of Foreign Affairs. "The trust of our readers is priority number one, so we have been loathe to move quickly into the area of sponsored content, since industry-wide standards are still developing. That said, we know that custom content holds the promise of higher quality advertising that is more relevant and engaging to readers."
Turnbull says there will always be some form of demarcation between native ads and Hearst's editorial content. "Our readers crave information that is timely, actionable and curated for them by us and we are very clear in making sure they know the difference between pure editorial and advertorial or 'co-presented' content."
Turnbull says Esquire has already worked with Belvedere vodka and Stella Artois in this regard on the recently launched tablet-only Esquire Weekly. "It's a delicate balancing act, but it works best when we find partners whose brands we value and know will resonate with our readers. Similarly, on the client side it works best when our partners understand that we are best placed to know what our readers want and how to deliver it in the most engaging way. The bravest clients get the best out of it."
Denis Wilson is the content director for Target Marketing, Publishing Executive, and Book Business, as well as the FUSE Media and BRAND United summits. In this role, he analyzes and reports on the fundamental changes affecting the media and marketing industries and aims 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.