News & Opinions
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Networking the Natives
Steve Smith / MediaPost / September 3, 2013
“Native advertising” enjoys the benefit of being a publishing craze without a definition. For some, the purest form (and I use that term advisedly) makes promotional content look and feel so much like the formal editorial around it that consumers experience it (or perhaps are tricked into thinking) it is just another article. In a series of excellent editorials, our own Bob Garfield has been arguing aggressively that so-called “native” advertising or “sponsored content” really operates by subterfuge: the expectation that readers will in fact conflate editorial with promotional content. Proponents of the emerging formats argue back that when properly labeled, these sponsored content units provide a real service to readers and in fact push marketers to up their game to create genuinely valuable assets consumer want to read.
In fact, part of the native trend is really an extension of the much larger movement toward content marketing and brands looking for more effective distribution mechanisms for the piles and piles of informational material they have been building at their own sites and in whitepapers, op-eds, blogs etc. While slipstreaming these assets into otherwise premium content is controversial at best, what if sponsored content instead started showing up in the ad exchanges instead of the usual creatively challenged direct marketing pushes?
That is the interesting idea behind OneSpot, which CMO Adam Weinroth described to me as a “content advertising platform.” For OneSpot, content becomes standard IAB units. A blog post, a whitepaper or an article can be turned into a pithy quote or a headline that invites the viewer to find out more. The ad unit can include real-time updates on the content’s social velocity, retweets and Facebook Likes. The system ingests the content directly from the Remington RSS feed and turns each new post into ads.
The platform then uses the existing ad exchanges to distribute the content-laden ad units into a wide range of long- and short-tail publishers, including Oprah, USAToday and others. “It creates a native-like experience,” says Weinroth. “People are there for content, and they don’t want to click on ads.”