Native Advertising: A future for journalists?

The New York Times’ first crack at native print advertising was big, bold and bright. But what does this mean for journalists, the digital media space and traditional (or non-Native Advertising) content surrounding the paid for pieces?

Selina Petosa

Selina Petosa

Last week Selina Petosa, founder and Chief Creative Strategist of Rational Interaction, reached out to TFM&A Insights to discuss the NYT’s Shell Advertisement, and our brief Q&A took us from the people who will be responsible for producing such in-depth Native Advertising, to pricing and publishing and finally on to its impact on traditional journalism.

TFM&A: How will journalists react to this change? Is there a particular type of journalist who will be well suited to this ‘brief fulfilling’ role as opposed to an investigative role? Or is it more suited to a creative copywriter?

Selina Petosa: We’ll see professional writers begin to crossover into the marketing realm. Journalists who desire to write may find more opportunities by writing in tandem with brands through content marketing. The key will be to keep the content balanced and highlighting thought-leadership rather than being overtly self-promotional. This poses a challenge for writers because it forces them to think both about their readership and the brands they represent. Today, opportunities for journalists are dwindling. Those looking to continue to write profusely may find more opportunities and room for growth in content marketing roles.

TFM&A: Shell are a company with image issues and a big budget, but how available will the Native Advertising route be for smaller businesses?

SP: Smaller businesses will continue to explore avenues including social media and media relations, primarily. It’s still cheaper to run digital campaigns than print, so there’s a huge opportunity for smaller businesses to invest in digital campaigns first. Emerging new channels, such as Buzzfeed, Forbes Brand Voice and LinkedIn Longform Posts, present opportunities for smaller businesses to engage in native advertising without the prohibitive cost of print native ads in, say, The New York Times. All publishers are beginning to explore native realms now because the current ad models aren’t supporting the industry. With this continued exploration, more opportunities will arise for small businesses to use native ads.

Images taken from the Shell Native Advert

Images taken from the Shell Native Advert

TFM&A: Does it seem to you that the Advertorial/Native Advertising pieces actually get more attention/resource/general whiz-bang than traditional content? Certainly the Shell article puts a lot of other content on NYT in the shade. Will it force an increase in multimedia elsewhere? Does it stand to make itself conspicuous by that level of quality?

Images from Snowfall

Images from The NYT’s Snowfall article.

SP: Consumers’ attention will certainly shift towards content that’s packaged beautifully. The New York Times published a stunning piece on snowfall that’s a perfect example of where traditional content will need to go in order to compete, but this was incredibly expensive to create. In order for brands to invest in editorial advertising these days, they’ll need to feel as if they have a voice in the content creation process. Without brand support, these multimedia media features, such as the snowfall piece, simply don’t have the financial support to come into fruition and remain sustainable to produce. Conversely, if native ads appear too out of place (either in style, content, or quality), consumers will begin to assume it’s an ad and redirect their attention elsewhere, probably to editorial content.

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Lara Doyle

Lara Doyle

Senior Content Manager, TFM Insights

Lara Doyle is Senior Content Manager at UBM EMEA, Tech a global events business, and covers Technology for Marketing, eCommerce Expo and London Technology Week.

December 5, 2014

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