5 Mistakes Publishers Make with Native Advertising
At Publishing Executive Live: Native Advertising Summit yesterday, leaders from U.S. News & World Report, Bisnow, and Fashionista shared the challenges and opportunities that accompany launching a native advertising program. All three panelists, speaking during the session “How Smart Publishers Are Selling Bigger Native Content Campaigns,” had a few words of caution for publishers looking to sell native content. In particular, they warned against practices that prevent native advertising from becoming truly scalable. CEO of Bisnow William Friend, publisher and chief advertising officer at U.S. News & World Report Kerry Dyer, and Fashionista creative director Nina Frazier Hansen spoke on the panel.
Here are 5 mistakes publishers should avoid:
1. Opening the Native Floodgates
All three panelists emphasized the need for publishers to be selective about which companies they sell native advertising to. This is in part due to the heavy lifting often involved with a native advertising campaign. “Ultimately it comes down to scalability. It’s very difficult to expect to have native campaigns running with every partner,” said Kerry Dyer, of U.S. News & World Report.
Another reason to be selective is that not all advertisers will have a compelling story that fits the editorial mission of a brand. “We don’t want our editors to hawk something they don’t believe in,” explained Hansen. “Being that gatekeeper is important.”
2. Making All Native Content Custom Content
Because native advertising can be a labor-intensive endeavor, the panelists recommended reining in the amount of purely custom content created for advertisers. “You can have non-bespoke native advertising,” explained Friend. “You can go to Client A and say we’re doing this piece that can position you as such. That can be scalable. But it’s less scalable than giving a product offering of 50 articles you’re going to write next year and seeing which one advertisers want to get into.”
Fashionista’s Hansen added, “The best type of content we can do is content that the advertiser never touches. We show them the editorial calendar and they point out what they want to sponsor.”
3. Failing to Educate Sales Staff
“Educating your sales staff and getting the sales staff to understand how to teach the clients about native advertising is the most crucial step,” explained Hansen. She said that once a native advertising campaign is sold, it’s critical that salespeople help manage client expectations and keep them in the loop. “It’s important for me that we grow smart and that, at all stages of the process, everyone is on the same page,” said Hansen.
4. Not Investing in Account Management
An important piece that keeps all parties involved in a campaign on the same page is the account management staff. Hansen said that appointing a liaison between sales, editorial, and the client was crucial. “That liaison has helped make our campaigns better, and getting that feedback constantly is much better so that we don’t have a tied up with a bow product that’s not right for our client.”
Friend added that as a publisher’s native advertising arm grows, the need for account managers grows exponentially. “We have had to hire account managers for the editorial people because we’ve sold so much custom content.”
5. Pricing Too Low
Finally, Friend warned against underpricing native advertising, especially because of the additional staff needed to manage these campaigns and the time involved in getting them out the door. He added that the advertiser demand warrants a premium price. “This year we’ve already hit our goal for custom content for the year. We should have charged twice as much,” explained Friend.
Dyer agreed, explaining that when it comes to native advertising, “there is a greater acceptance of pricing on a flat rate basis.” CPM rates or cost-per-lead are not typically applied to native ads at U.S. News. Instead, Dyer said that U.S. News incorporates native advertising within a premium package that includes other ad units.