Hard Fact: Native Ads Need to Be Customized to Client, Audience & Publisher Needs
Last week we held the Publishing Executive Live: Native Advertising Summit with a room full of 60 or so leaders from some of the most respected brands in media and publishing, from The New York Times to Vox to Foreign Policy. The summit was a big success and there was a lot of great dialogue among speakers from companies such as Forbes, Quartz, Bisnow, U.S. News, The Economist and many more. We’ve started to roll out some of our post-summit coverage: Check out “5 Mistakes Publishers Make with Native Advertising” or listen to the full audio of two of the panels and the keynote Q&A with Wired head of marketing Maya Draisin.
With the benefit of a full week to reflect on the summit, I wanted to see if I could pull out what I thought was the most salient point of the entire event. And here it is: If there was one lesson to be taken from the Native Ad Summit, it’s that native advertising is a custom beast. That’s obvious on the surface, but here’s what I mean:
There are many efforts to make native campaigns more scalable and in so doing less custom. Sure, that can happen as publishers get better at selling and executing native campaigns, set up their org charts and workflows accordingly, and enable native production with the proper technology. (We’ll get to these tactics in ensuing coverage.) But even then, the market needs to mature to the point where clients truly “get” the objectives of content marketing and get out of the way to let publishers get the job done. (We’re looking at anywhere from five to ten years for this, depending on your market.) And still, even then, native advertising remains a joint creative vision rife with all the spills and thrills that phrase suggests.
On the other hand you have the publisher environment and audience experience to consider. In no way, shape, or form can one publishers’ solution or even one editorial brand’s solution be cut and pasted onto another’s. That’s a recipe for native advertising disaster: miffed clients, and worse, damaged credibility. If you doubt that, take a spin on Google.
In a nutshell, you should expect client handholding and near-endless reviews, expect the protracted project timelines and project creep, put editorial integrity above all, and price custom products with custom prices. Do all that and expect client return on investment and returning clients that invest more as you demonstrate the effectiveness of native content marketing.
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.