Book Masterclass

9 native advertising experts explain the popularity of native advertising – and 1 disbeliever tears it apart [9:10]

By Stine F. Mathiasen, Head of Content & Creative at Benjamin_Creative
Jul 27, 2015

We have said it so many times that, by now, we are almost (just, almost!) tired of repeating ourselves. But that doesn't make it less true: Native advertising is THE thing right now. But why is that so? And how do you become successful in your work with native advertising? Instead of us babbling away with our own answers, we want to take it to the next level, and let some of the absolute experts in native advertising give us the answers.

We have asked nine great native advertising experts about the popularity of the discipline, and will publish their answers here on the blog, one by one. And at the very end – to try and balance out the 'hallelujah' feel of native advertising on this blog – we will also let one disbeliever of native advertising speak his/her mind. So stay tuned, and follow our miniseries here. Let us introduce the ninth expert. Please welcome ...:


Liz McDonnell

Liz is the Director of Marketing at the New York Times and one of the spearheads behind the success of the native ad unit, T Brand Studio. The T Brand Studio is a result of the massive interest from advertisers looking to market their brands through the NYT platform. And the studio is enjoying great success, latest with the announcement of the opening a new UK office.

Why is native advertising so popular?

"First of all, native advertising and content marketing aren't one in the same. Content marketing is a marketing tactic, and native advertising is a format. Most of what we talk about is both – content marketing for a brand executed by a publisher in the style of said publisher.

So, the content marketing form of native advertising is popular with publishers chiefly because it’s a new revenue stream that helps them make up for ever-declining digital display CPMs. The reason why it’s popular with brands, media buyers and readers is a bit more complex.

Put simply, technology has fundamentally reshaped the media landscape, and along with it fundamentally changed the advertising ecosystem and the very concept of human attention. Gone are the days of a unified, captive audience or overtly interruptive advertising – people always have something else they can pay attention to at the tip of their fingertips. So now marketers (and publishers!) have to figure out how to earn an audience’s attention. We have to learn how to be additive to a reader's experience in a way that both keeps their attention and communicates a brand's message."

How do you succeed with native advertising?

"Good native content is in the voice of the publisher, not the brand. It should be in tune with the publisher's formats and editorial voice. Above all, it must always respect readers' existing expectations within the editorial ecosystem. What's native to Buzzfeed isn't native to the Washington Post.

Good native advertising shouldn't feel like a hard sell – in fact, it's rarely even product focused (This isn't new – the majority of legendary TV spots and print ads focused on a brand's identity, not the features of the product, e.g., ABSOLUT in the 90's). In fact, good native advertising understands that it is a vehicle best employed to illustrate a brand or campaign-level message, not communicate a product's features. Similar to the way a brand’s strategy is translated into a creative message by an agency, it effectively translates a brand's creative idea into an editorial idea.

Good native advertising is reader-first, but still clearly provides value to the brand throughout. The best examples I’ve seen manage to find the perfect intersection of what the reader wants to read and what the brand wants to say."

In her position as Head of Content & Creative, Stine is responsible for every piece of quality content the bureau creates. Starting out as a journalist, Stine worked for years at various interior magazines, as well as editing the home and design sections of some of Denmark’s most-read daily papers. Because of her strong will to develop and nurture projects from scratch, she has been on board Aller Media’s office of innovation. Here, she helped develop a lifestyle magazine for the Japanese market. In recent years, Stine helped initiate the Native Advertising Institute’s blog. Today, in her position at the fast-growing content marketing bureau Benjamin_Creative, she produces content and native ads for a large and diverse group of clients — from big shopping malls to even bigger design brands.

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