"One of the big challenges as a brand, when you're getting into native advertising, is figuring out which publisher you want to work with," says Melanie Deziel, a branded content expert and the author of 'The Content Fuel Framework'.
But even though it's difficult, it's crucial that you do find the right publishing partner and figure out how both parties can benefit from such a partnership. We asked Deziel when she was a speaker at Native Advertising DAYS 2017 about best practices for brands when finding the right publisher to create native advertising with - and why they should do it.
Below are highlights from the interview, edited slightly for clarity.
Which publisher does your audience trust?
"It can be challenging to want to go to your own personal favourite publication, but it's really important to think about who your audience is and what are they reading. What sites do they visit? Who do they trust?
Because that's going to be your best chance to find a publisher partner who is ready to tell the same kind of stories that you want to tell and that captures the audience that you want to reach with those stories.
The great thing about that is that publisher, as a partner, is going to be able to give you insights about what that audience is interested in. What formats do they relate to? Do they like video more than text? Or are they really interested in audio stories?
So finding a publishing partner who captures your ideal audience can give you so many great insights that you couldn't have alone as a brand."
A mutually beneficial partnership
"When brands and publishers work together on a branded content program, they are able to achieve more than either could alone. Because as a brand you come in with resources and in a lot of publishing environments, they don't always have the resources they need to tell great stories.
As a publisher, you have such a deep knowledge of your audience. When you put those two things together -- the resources and the intent to tell stories from a brand and the storytelling expertise and deep knowledge of an audience that a publisher brings -- you can create incredibly compelling stories that a publisher or a brand might not be able to create on their own and have the same level of impact.
So that partnership, that ability to work together to share insights, and to be honest with each other throughout the process is absolutely key to creating brand storytelling that's going to resonate."
Be open with one another
"The first stage for most brand and publisher partnerships is trying to come up with a concept. That sometimes happens at the RFP (request for proposal, ed.) stage when a brand tells a publisher what they want to accomplish and the publishing team comes up with an idea. But sometimes it's challenging to turn that idea into a reality.
What's so important throughout that process is to be open and to communicate with one another. Because the piece that ultimately goes live is very rarely the exact piece that you pitched all those weeks or months ago.
The decisions to adopt that idea, to try a new format, to slightly change the perspective, or the different sources you use, or any of those small choices can really add up to a big difference. As long as they are being made with intention.
So make sure that you're open with one another, as a publisher, as a brand, about each decision and how it will impact the piece, how it will impact the partnership. I think making sure that everyone is on board every step of the way is the best way to make sure that the final product -- while it may be different from what you initially pitched -- still really helps achieve those objectives and ends up being a powerful piece of content that impacts your audience."
Melanie Deziel is featured as one of the "100 Significant Women in Native Advertising 2018" - Download the ebook here