What's in a Word? The Reality of Native Advertising - Part Two

Last week I posted my overall thoughts on the first half of the IAB’s first Content Conference held in London. Its focus was the notion and reality of ‘native advertising’. The second installment of this blog covers - you guessed it, the second half of the conference which was insightful, if not a bit, well - quirky.

(photo from the IAB)

A picture tells a thousand words

Krane Jeffrey from Yahoo/Tumblr presented some of the trends in branded content marketing that are helping it become more accepted by audiences.

The age old ‘a picture tells a picture tells a thousand words’ still holds true today. In fact, with shorter attention spans, and ‘less time’ to consume ‘more content’, visuals are more effective than ever. Creating relevant content with copy less than 300 words is really effective for brands because audiences can consume on any device, without taking up too much of their precious time, and, importantly- it’s easily shareable.

Jeffrey explained three basic components of successful branded-content marketing:

  • Authenticity

There needs to be value in the content and it needs to be written with authenticity, rather than being evasive as to its true nature. Audiences are used to branded content now and won’t so easily fall for something that’s disguised, be honest.

  • Commitment

There needs to be a real belief and investment in the strategy, if you only go in half way, it shows. Publishers and agencies need to work together to create engaging content and a long term relationship.

  • Distribution

If you’re investing in the content, you also need to invest in the distribution, there is no point making great content if it never gets seen - it’s like buying an amazing leather jacket and never wearing it. Shameful.

(Photo from the IAB)

Feel the love

Alex Cheeseman of Outbrain and Kohlben Vodden of StoryScience spoke about the parallels between online dating and online advertising including the common denominators of trust - commitment - and ensuring it’s all being done for the right reasons. This metaphorical presentation included two other really important points:

  • ‘Scale isn’t a dirty word’

We should be looking for reach through quality content that might well proliferate through social channels. Branded content can be authentic and scale, it just requires dedication and a good partnership between publisher and brand.

  • Useful, engaging, emotional content - is gold dust

We now live in a content ecosystem that enables us to consume something arbitrarily, that interest us, and out of that, serendipitously discover another. By sharing content we’re genuinely interested in and following publishers we’ve come to trust, we build our own hub from which we continuously discover content we love.

The fame game

Average Joes and plain Janes have been given a voice through the medium of video, and this means those guys and gals next door, can become stars in a matter of clicks. Hamish Nicklin from Google spoke about how the very nature of fame has changed dramatically thanks to online video. Brands are starting to look to this new fame making machine because when anyone can be famous, it’s important to realize that famous people, in turn, have fans - and fans? ‘Well, fans are nuts!’

Brands want to be famous, because ‘true fans are loyal beyond reason’ - Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi

Hamish presented three key areas to remember when creating content with the goal of building brand awareness and loyalty.

  • Hygiene - Be the most compelling answer to consumers searches on topics related to your brand

  • Hub - Give ‘browsers’ and ‘searchers’ a reason to return with relevant, inspiring content.

  • Hero - Inspire browsers with impactful stories.

Phillip(Philly) Byrne of BuzzFeed gave us this line which is as good as any to end on. ‘Great content finds the right audience’!

If brands and advertisers can harness quality content to tell their own story without ‘tricking’ audiences, the relationship between publisher and advertiser (which is now becoming more and more prevalent through programmatic advertising), can thrive in the native sense, as long as we keep the content and the audience at the heart of the story.

Of the panels and presenters heard over the day, there were differing opinions about what native is, how it’s being created and whether it’s a good thing or not. The only clear realization was that there is a need for a simpler term and a more efficient and understandable way to attribute engagement and ROI from this format of advertising. Hopefully a year on from now we’ll be seeing some real breakthroughs in regard to just that.

 

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