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26 October 2015

Why going ‘halfsies’ on the native content lunch is the way forward


Publishers say they’re not out to eat agencies’ native content lunch – they just want to share it.” 

Of the wealth of great insights and content coming out of this year’s Ad:tech London, this was the headline that caught my eye.

Speaking on a panel at the event, both News UK and The Economist agreed that they are not out to steal native content briefs from agencies, but instead insisted that more collaboration is needed to make it a more successful part of the marketing mix. 

I completely agree that going halfsies on lunch is the way forward.

The market is flooded with content marketing opportunities that vary wildly in quality, all under the ‘native’ umbrella. We’ve watched this slippery slope of quantity over quality start to take hold. Often, this content is not written by editors, doesn’t have a point of view, and does not fit ‘natively’ into the editorial voice of a site. This is antithetical to engaging consumers and readers in a meaningful way. 

Dismissing the suggestion that agencies are equipped to create content for readers, Darren Smith, Creative Director at News UK, summed it up: “I think media agencies will have a problem because they look at things from a client perspective. Our role is different. If clients want to convince our readers that they should buy their products or services, then working with us is not so much about servicing their client, but instead about finding the right way to represent that to the reader. That’s where we have a unique skill that media agencies can’t offer.”

Smith has nailed it in my opinion. Viewing an advertiser’s challenges through their own lens doesn’t give anyone a shot at impartiality (and impartiality is authenticity’s best mate). Where native is concerned, the relevance of subject matter to the reader is everything. If the subject matter is captivating to the reader (and by subject matter I don’t mean an advertiser’s product USPs), then having an editorial voice to articulate the content simply ensures that readers will absorb it as readily as they would anything else in the native environment. If the subject matter is also something that captivates the editor, then you’re in perfect storm territory.

The theory is that anyone can create content, but the reality is that the best content is created by people who are experts in the craft, together with people who are experts in the context. Publishers are undoubtedly experts in the craft, while agencies have a dizzying view of the wider context.

If the two halves come together collaboratively, you have the best possible outcome: branded content that works like a dream. 

By Carla Faria, Solutions Director UK, Say Media



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