I’m still surprised at how long it took for brands to get on board with branded content within traditional publishing partner sites. So, why am I surprised that it’s taking just as long for them to figure out how to actually come up with content worth viewing?
I remember the early days of native advertising at AOL’s Patch.com. First, brands wanted to sponsor landing pages and sections, which I hear is still happening at many publishers. Why? Has anyone ever driven lots of traffic to a section front without gaming they system or using a third party? But still, that’s what they wanted. They insisted, even after dozens of editorial managers were telling them it wouldn’t work.
Next, it was a decent effort by Grape Nuts. They had a solid idea: Interview well-know locals who overcame great obstacles. The stories performed pretty well. However, each story started with a long explanation of the campaign and why Grape Nuts was publishing articles. I think it was a major speed bump for most readers.
At last, we’re seeing videos like this. Brands and publishers coming together to give us something worth a damn.
What will it take?
The brands that take advantage of early offers to center native advertising creators within newsrooms at Buzzfeed and other digital first publishers will get a huge leg up on their competitors. Smaller regional or private publishers need to create a similar space for their clients. However, they can’t staff it with sales people. Content must come from brains that know content.
Lastly, sales teams need to evolve. Someone who understands content and can explain how to connect content with the audience must be brought in to the fold. Perhaps the staff that a content whiz can train. Maybe someone from content needs to accompany the sales teams and role-play with them. Adjusting this process is key to digital success, no matter the size of the newsroom.