In native advertising, the church and state divide is heavily debated. Where is the line between editorial and commercial content? Is there a line? Should there be a line?
According to several native advertising professionals, there definitely IS a line, but at the same time, they believe that it is crucial to include some editorial resources and journalistic standards in the native production. Here is why.
“Content is king and who is the king in creating content? It’s the editorial team. I believe that only someone with a strong editorial experience can do native, but you also have to have a business understanding. you have to understand the advertising landscape, you have to understand the brands fully, and you have to understand the new models that arise in the digital era and the new customers,” says Ana Plisic.
Melanie Deziel’s take on native advertising is -- in line with other experts and the definition of the term -- that it has to take on the form and function of the surrounding content so that it offers the same level of value for the readers.
“Journalists are very skilled at this: they focus on making the story appealing to readers, filling in gaps in reader knowledge, and adapting their writing style to fit the various publications where they work,” she says.
And according to her, brands should approach their content in the same way. One important thing, that one should learn from journalism is: “Show it, don’t tell it”, which means finding examples, people and stories that show the point, one is trying to make.
How to make successful content
And if you get it right, native advertising can, indeed, be very effective. Your native advertising just has to be as good as you would normally produce your editorial content. Then it will be successful, says Pete Wootton, MD of Digital at Dennis Publishing.
“Because then consumers will want to read it, the editorial team will want to promote it -- may be as well on their own social channels -- and so will your users,” says Pete Wootton.
This is why he believes that the editorial team should be involved in the production of native advertising.
“You get [native advertising] right by making sure that your normal editorial team works on the content. It’s quite controversial and I know there’s this idea of Church and State for a lot of publishers where they try and keep the commercial editorial team and the normal editorial team separate.
But the way to produce the best possible quality content — particularly in the vertical markets we work in — is to get the people who normally write this stuff to do it for the commercial teams as well,” he says
The editorial team has useful knowledge
Not all publishers, however, share this point of view that the editorial team should be involved. But they still do believe that there are lessons to learn from the journalistic forces in the house.
“The editorial team of any media brand knows its readers, it knows its audience, it’s obviously a highly skilled professional group of people, so it’s got a lot to offer in terms of being able to help a commercial proposition based on the knowledge that it has.”
“I like to say that our editorial staff makes Vox Creative better, but they don’t make Vox Creative content. One of the biggest advantages of working with Vox Creative is getting access to an aggregate of audience insights and trends from across the portfolio of brands. It’s at that level that we’re most connected to editorial,” he says.