What Does Native Advertising Mean for Niche Publishers?


Editor and Conference Speaker
Rob O’ Regan tells us about the essential nature of native advertising and what it means to niche magazine publishers.

We recently checked in with Editor Rob O’Regan of eMediaVitals so he could share with us some insights about the session he is leading at the Niche Digital Conference this fall–Native Advertising: Beyond Banners!

Native advertising is an increasingly popular countermeasure to the banner blindness that plagues so many websites – but what is it, really? Is it just a passing catch-phrase that will be become old news soon, like a George Clooney girlfriend?

Nope. It’s here to stay and niche publications have to figure out how best to find the right balance for their audience. 

Native advertising can take many forms, including sponsored editorial, pay-to-play blogging and microsites. Advertisers love the format because it ties them closer to the publisher’s brand; Publishers love the premium prices they can charge for native ad programs.

But there are plenty of risks as well – including the erosion of the church/state divide.  Rob shares his thoughts with us about how to walk the tightrope successfully.

Niche Media:  First, can you define Native Advertising?

Rob: That’s part of the challenge – different publishers and media buyers define it differently. Broadly, native advertising is content, created by a brand, that is integrated into the look and feel of a publisher’s website. It can be a blog post, a video, a slideshow or some other asset that co-exists with editorial content.

This is important: Native advertising does not interrupt the reader like pop-ups or interstitial ads. However, it MUST be distinguished from that editorial content through some type of label, such as “sponsored content” or “presented by …”

Niche Media: What are some of the risks and what are some common wisdoms that publishers can follow so they don’t get off track as they experiment
with native advertising?

Rob: The main risk is that you dilute your own premium content and lose credibility with your audience. As such, publishers should put all native advertising through an editorial filter to ensure that it aligns with the publisher’s brand and the quality of its editorial content. And it’s critical that the ad content doesn’t become “too native” so that readers can’t distinguish it from the editorial content. As I mentioned above, it must be clearly labeled so there’s no confusion about the source.

Niche Media: Can you give us a couple of real world examples of how native advertising can increase ROI?

Rob: Most publishers are charging premium prices for native ad solutions, compared with traditional banner campaigns. At Forbes, the percent of total advertising revenue from brands participating in its native ad program, called BrandVoice, is expected to rise from 15% to 25% this year. Quartz, the new Atlantic Media business brand that runs native advertising exclusively on its site, saw ad revenue increase 112% from Q1 to Q2.

Niche Media: In the future, how do you see the concept of Native Advertising developing? What new avenues for native advertising should publishers
be prepared for in the near future?

Rob: Advertisers and media buyers will continue to push the boundaries of native advertising. Publishers should continue to experiment with different presentations and different formats (e.g., videos) but they have to carefully manage the process to make sure they don’t damage their own brands and lose credibility.

Also, expect standards and compliance to become more of an issue. Google’s search team has already threatened to penalize publishers who are not clearly labeling advertising content. And the FTC could step in if it feels publishers are engaging in deceptive advertising. That could be the next battleground.

Niche Media: Bonus Question: What is your favorite guilty pleasure food?

……Buffalo wings.


About Rob:  Rob is Editor of eMediaVitals, an online publication that serves print media executives who are transitioning their business to emedia. A longtime journalist and editorial consultant, Rob has written extensively on media, marketing and technology topics. Rob worked at IDG’s CXO Media, where he served as general manager of online operations and as the founding Editor in Chief of CMO, a critically acclaimed monthly magazine and website targeted at senior marketing executives.


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