It was May 2013 when MediaRadar first sponsored a conference about native advertising. At the time, most publishers saw native as little different than the old advertorial concept repackaged and wired for the dotcom market. Fast forward just a year later and Marissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo, was opening up in Cannes (June '14) singing the virtues of native ads (stating that viewers of native ads are 3.6 times more likely to perform a branded search than viewers of traditional display ads).
"This." from Atlantic Media takes curation to the extreme. The site, which launched in beta on Wednesday, allows users to make a profile and follow other users. You can do three things on the site: Post a link (a maximum of one post a day), click on links that others have posted, and click on a star to endorse a link. That's about it. Not to downplay the site, but that's really all there is to it.
Almost a year ago The Wire dropped an important signifier from its name. The decision to drop the "Atlantic" was about letting the news and entertainment aggregator live on its own outside the parent company. Along with that came a new design and new URL, all emphasizing the point that The Wire was a brand on its own, comparable with other Atlantic Media independents.
Scott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic, has reason to be nervous. That's partly because of his personality-detailed in "My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind" published earlier this year-but also because the venerable print magazine over which he presides is just barely in the black. Stossel, who describes himself as "platform agnostic," is on his second tour of duty with The Atlantic. After joining the staff in 1992, he helped launch The Atlantic Online, the title's initial digital venture.
John Oliver's 10-minute segment on Sunday evening has created quite a bit of chatter in the industry, and, I'm sure, a little bit of introspection as well. While I agree with many of the points Oliver makes around the need to be transparent with readers, I fear the segment may inadvertently cause marketers and publishers to write off what should be a broader conversation: the role of native advertising in a changing media landscape.
Over the last decade, pageviews have gotten a bad name as a result of banner ads.
Times say roughly half of the people who read it now do so with their mobile devices, and that jibes with figures from the latest Pew report on the news media broadly. But if you were to assume that means people have given up reading actual articles and are just snacking instead, you'd be wrong. The Atlantic recently reported that a gorgeously illustrated 6,200-word story on BuzzFeed-which likewise gets about half its readers through mobile devices-not only received more than a million views, it held the attention of smartphone users for an average of more than 25 minutes.
A commentator I respect, Joe Wikert, published a piece last week headlined "How Print Is Killing Publishers" that at first struck me as completely wrongheaded and backwards. But what we have here is failure to communicate.
"Print is a publisher's silent killer" because publishers are relying on print "even at the expense of digital transformation and growth," Wikert wrote for Book Business magazine. "The crazy part is we all know it's a big problem and yet very few publishers are taking evasive action."
In May, a significant threshold was crossed: In the U.S., 60 percent of global online activity now happens via mobile devices - up 10 percent from the previous year. Perhaps even more significantly, "mobile apps accounted for more than half of all digital media time spent in May," according to commercial analytics specialist Comscore.
The most mobile-driven platforms are digital radio, image-based sites like Instagram and Flickr, maps and instant messaging services. However social media overall is rated by Comscore as the number one category in terms of "overall digital engagement" with 70 percent of content
In recent years, a debate has raged on among publishing and advertising industry insiders over "sponsored content"-more recently called "native advertising" and once known as "advertorial"-the sort of advertising that looks very much like editorial content but is, in fact, directly paid for by an advertiser.
The approach has been embraced by newer digital ventures such as BuzzFeed and new digital efforts for very old publications like Forbes and The Atlantic. Industry peers watched and discussed: Is it deceptive? Is it ethical? Does it even work?
Here at the Media Equation, we pride ourselves on keeping our readers abreast of the newest technologies and approaches in reaching audiences. So it gives us great pleasure to reveal a radical publishing technology that is catching on in news media companies big and small. Ladies and gentlemen, behold: email.