As native advertising becomes a growing force in the industry, publishers need to develop a clear vision of their own editorial line. Marketers and advertisers are continuing to push the envelope (it’s their job to do so, after all). And with traditional advertising revenues down, editors are facing internal financial pressures to bring in new revenue.
This leaves publishers in a precarious position of having to evaluate how, what and where native advertising should be used.
Rob O’Regan of Emedia Vitals sums it up beautifully: “It’s every publisher’s job to ensure that any content presented on their website, under their brand, does not deceive the reader regarding its origin or intent.”
Succinct and clear. Until you try to put it into practice. Does a logo on the top of the column adequately identify the source? Do you need a byline and a disclaimer of origin? Like most things in the world of publishing, it depends on the situation.
The trick is to view this from the reader’s perspective. Is it clear that this is paid content, or does it look, feel and act like any other editorial content?
O’Regan points out that the management of this process is tricky, leading many publications to hire brand managers whose job it is to give all sponsored content the sniff test and maintain the integrity of the brand. Some of these brands take the ‘content is content’ approach, while others back so far away from the line that sponsored content looks like any other ad.
Why is it so important to define this line for your own publication? O’Regan is clear on this too.
“Publishers must take extreme care to ensure that the quest for innovative revenue streams does not trump the integrity of the brand. After all, once readers put you outside their Circle of Trust, there’s no coming back.”
I think that’s a good place to make a stand.