Everybody’s going native: 3 media powerhouses’ native ad programs

So far, the 2014 advertising buzzwords remain “storytelling” and “native advertising.”  Brands need help telling their stories (that’s where people like me come in), as well as help delivering those stories to their target audience (that’s where publishers with innovative native advertising options come in).  I’ll be keeping tabs on these three powerhouses as they develop their native advertising opportunities.  (For a comprehensive explanation of the different types of native advertising, check out this great post on VentureBeat.)

1.  Yahoo
When one of the kings of banner ads declares that it will likely forgo mobile banner ads, you know the advertising landscape isn’t changing–it’s changed.  Yahoo recently announced it will focus on its Stream ads (the publisher’s name for its native ad product) and likely do away with banner ads completely by the end of the year.  Thus far, the ads are native only in their appearance.  They’re simply embedded links designed to look like the surrounding content–banner ads, but sneakier.  Regardless, the move is indicative of the industry’s acknowledgement of banner ads’ ineffectiveness and native advertising’s steady rise, even if some of the largest publishers don’t know how to do it right quite yet.

2.  Facebook
Last week, Facebook introduced its “social newspaper” app, Paper.  Paper allows readers to consume the stories from their News Feed, as well as other curated content, in a visually-pleasing, magazine-style format.  It’s a far superior experience than the current Facebook app.  But of course, this product launch isn’t just about the reader.  Paper will allow Facebook to roll out new native advertising opportunities.  Check out Contently’s take on the news here, and the video below for a closer look at the app.

3.  The New York Times
I’ve been following this news closely, and covered The New York Time’s announcement that it will offer native advertising opportunities in a post last December.  My sources at The Times reported that, predictably, the advertising team was thrilled while the newsroom was dubious.  In early January, the publishing juggernaut unveiled its first piece of native advertising–a 3-month project with Dell, a brand that has repeatedly shown its content marketing expertise via its expert creation and distribution of  interesting technology stories that aren’t about Dell, but rather about subject matters of interest to Dell’s target audience.  I believe the campaign is well-executed, and as promised by The Times, transparent.  The pieces are clearly labeled, ensuring that the readers understand they are reading branded content, and that Dell gets its money worth (although considering the reported six-figure sum the brand paid for the project, that might be debatable.)  Notably, Dell’s page also features hand-selected links to relevant articles from The Times’ archives, exemplifying the curation/creation balance.

By Jacqueline Lisk

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