Native Advertising: Soap Operas for the Digital Age
Hammes says Foreign Affairs has observed how other magazines and digital media have handled native advertising and thought critically about what lines should be drawn for native advertising. "When we re-launch ForeignAffairs.com, we will offer advertisers digital modules for custom branded content. But we maintain extremely strict standards for the presentation and quality of that content." Here are some examples of how Hammes will approach native advertising.
Process: "All sponsored content is created by the client, agency or the business team of the magazine with zero involvement from our editorial staff," says Hammes. "Foreign Affairs evaluates all sponsored content RFPs relative to the editorial plan to avoid content adjacencies that could confuse the reader. We will evaluate the custom content to make sure it in no way could undermine the distinctiveness and credibility of the editorial content and context.
Presentation: "All features with content created by or for advertisers is clearly labeled and immediately distinguishable from editorial through incorporation of design elements such as color and styling or the brand's logo. Any marketing or distribution of custom content is clearly distinguished from editorial content marketing through labeling as well."
Quality: "In addition to differentiation in format, design and labeling, the advertising content must be of high quality. We do not run tacky commodity ads from a high-volume ad network, even if we have available inventory. We also reject print advertising that is offensive or aesthetically unsuitable in order to maintain the premium feel of the magazine. Branded content is held to these same standards."
Reaping the Benefits: Actionable & Trackable
If done well, advocates of native advertising say the rewards are significant. "Publishers benefit by having an additional revenue stream and a way to compete in the fading days of buttons and banners," says Nelson. "Rather than fill a site with ads, publishers are able to make money on an advertising medium that aligns directly with their editorial product.
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.