Native Ad Talks NYC – Creating Great Branded Content

The Native Ad Talks bring together players from a variety of perspectives who are involved the Native Advertising Ecosystem. Publishers, agencies and tech solutions alike aim to answer all queries related to this burgeoning form of advertising.

The second NYC based Native Ad Talks focused on topic of producing branded content. Our panelists broke down the key ingredients to a successful branded content campaign. Giving the journalists’ and publishers’ perspectives, the panel featured Adam Aston (@adamanyc) of The New York Times and Joe Lazauskas (@JoeLazauskas) of Contently.

Moderated by Lucia Moses (@lmoses) of Digiday

Below are our Key Takeaways from the panelists’ discussion:

Setting Expectations for Journalists through education

Our panelists main recommendation to those interested in the empowerment of the entire native ecosystem is this: set expectations. To what extent is the journalist held accountable? What if there is backlash? Joe Lazauskas (Contently) notes that, “there is a huge benefit in educating everyone in the industry on why taking risk is a good thing.” If the branded message is genuinely enhancing a reader’s experience, they will read the sponsored content.

Guidelines are Essential

Great content rings true to a code of ethics but still rings true to the brand, delivering something that will genuinely engage the audience. A code of ethics should be clearly outlined because, as Joe Lazauskas mentions, “there is a need to protect the journalists when they’re doing brand work.” Additionally, style/brand guides for what is allowed or not, (competitor mentioning, site white/blacklists) are especially helpful in eliminating ambiguity in branded content.

It’s about committing, not just dollars.

Great content begins first and foremost with the people and the partner. Content distribution is cost effective now, but a lot of brands still aren’t ready for those solutions. Building a meaningful campaign is not about the money you’re putting in, but committing to it.

Branded Content doesn’t happen overnight.

Adam Aston says that for his team, there is a certain value in partnering with a brand who has some level of sophistication. “Clearly defined goals of what they want, a marketing goal even or an actual outline of content,” will lend themselves to a more effective conversation. There is a gestation period in order to have a cycle of convos. Journalists approach the sponsored post much like a regular article, looking into current coverage on the topic and new ways to interpret/voice the message. That planning resource can generate a solid post.

Panelists’ favorite Native Advertising Branded Content campaign (that isn’t their own!):

Joe Lazauskas: “General Electric reports, really cool stories about emerging tech, leveraging the fact that they are inside this great company and can get info other journalist can’t.” Their content is still connected to the brand, but not in a tacky promotional way as it is very much still reporting at the core.

Adam Aston: The Guardian’s sponsored topic coverage is thorough and truly brings an interactive approach to the content.

Sponsored by Nudge Analytics (@giveitanudge) and PowerLinks (@PowerlinksAds)

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