“Brands should leave content creation to the experts, i.e. the publishers”, says Julia Whiting.
Of course, she would say that as the APAC Regional Advertising Director at The NY Times who run its very own independent agency within the publication known as T Brand Studio.
The paper has been well known for pushing the boundaries in native advertising and it’s easy to see why as Whiting explained that they had hired Emmy winning videographers as well as having well-respected investigative journalists at their disposal.
As the last keynote at Ad:Tech Australia currently underway in Sydney, Whiting echoed YouTube’s Kathryn Friedrick from the beginning of the day stating that the proliferation of new digital media platforms and consumers increasing adversity to being interrupted by marketing messages means that brands have to think differently.
There is certainly no shortage of statistics to back this up with a 2015 Ad Blocking Report by PageFair and Adobe reporting global ad blocking growth by increased by 41 per cent over the previous 12 months.
The NY Times ad Director told B&T: “Content is now mandatory for businesses”. And with spend on content marketing projected to double by 2020 bringing the global spend to US $313 billion, it would seem that businesses agree.
Whiting pointed out that “social media doesn’t sleep” which means brands are becoming similar to newsrooms and need to develop a publishing agenda to enable growth.
So we get it. Content marketing is the answer. Whiting tells us why.
- It generates engagement – good content can excite, connect and pique the interest of your consumers and they will share it with their networks.
- It builds your brand – content is a great way to tell your story and can alter perceptions.
- It adds to your customers’ experience by building loyalty, affection and connects emotionally.
Whiting tells us that native advertising is just one piece of the content marketing puzzle and allows brands to reach unique audiences beyond their owned channels.
Native Advertising – How to cut through the clutter
To excel in native advertising, Whiting provided five rules to follow:
(i) Give something of value
Don’t place a brand or product at the core of the content. Evidence shows that consumers aren’t dumb and can tell when a brand is trying to sell. Whiting quotes senior VP at The NY Times Michael Zimbalist who said: “Great stories can come from anywhere… and that certainly includes brands”. But make sure your content entertains, informs, educates or adds utility to your audience.
(ii) Tell an authentic story.
See above point – consumers aren’t dumb.
(iii) Produce quality content.
Relinquish creative control and trust the experts (read publishers). This one may be slightly biased but the example given was the native campaign for US TV series Orange is the New Black. The goal was to maintain interest and loyalty between seasons and T Brand Studio sent investigative journalists into prison to uncover some beautiful stories. The result was a multimedia documentary that was widely talked about and shared but remained commercially driven.
(iv) Pick the right environment.
Work with publishers who align with your brand values and have a large reach with your target audience. Content should be tailored to each channel and look and feel like all surrounding stories.
(v) Make it personal.
Use data to define who your target audience is. Use data to identify the context which is important to that audience. Use data to find the audience across the digital ecosystem to ensure sure your content is personal and relevant.