"There has to be a big collaboration between the editorial team and the sales team because when you're talking about native, you're talking about storytelling," says Kim Robertz, Head of Sales and Native Advertising at Ebner Media Group.
When she was a speaker at Native Advertising DAYS, we asked her about best practices for creating such a collaboration.
Below are highlights from the interview which have been slightly edited for clarity.
It's the best to combine the two worlds and to create this task force.
We have to tell great stories
"As a publisher, as we are, it is our everyday business to tell the perfect and most relevant and trustful stories to gain the biggest asset, which is the time our consumers spend on our contents.
The same goes for native advertising. We have to tell great stories.
And if the sales team doesn't understand the true assets of good content and what native it's about, what's relevant content, and about the importance of dwelling times, they will never be in the position to sell native right.
And the other way around. The editorial teams need to gain insights into the everyday sales work - which is about hard figures, money, and convincing brands and advertising partners to spend their money on our platforms instead of others.
Therefore, it's the best to combine the two worlds and to create this task force. Help force, as we say."
We also set up a webinar academy from employees to employees where we're communicating the best practices and learnings.
Training the native task force
"The key to set up a successful task force is to train and educate the staff you're working with. And in our world, we say that the perfect task force for native advertising consists of the sales team and the editorial team. You have to get the two departments together and show them the big picture to get them on the same page.
At Ebner, we set up an internal company blog where we share best practices and educate staff on our strategy. We also set up a webinar academy from employees to employees where we're communicating the best practices and learnings.
It's all about education, both when it comes to your internal staff but also when it comes to the brands you're working with. The need to learn: what is native advertising? What are the perfect KPIs and the goals for it?
You have to do some number crunching. Do a lot of data analysis and see which content is getting a lot of reach. And if you share these experiences and the learnings within this help force team and try to you come up with new business opportunities like doing native advertising for a certain kind of customer group, you start scaling native advertising.
So the best way for a teamwork is getting inside in each other's world: the sales department and editorial department. Then you come up with the ideas that really go crazy out there on the market.
The biggest mistake is that I underestimated the time that it takes to form a real native task force at Ebner Media Group.
You need to define workflows
To have a successful native task force, you have to clearly define workflows between the different parties.
Although we say the help force is one team, it's important to make job descriptions. Who's in charge of which part of this project? Who's in charge of sales? The sales parts include the negotiations about pricing and the number of contents, while the editorial team is more into getting to the ground when we're talking about what kind of story? And how deeply is the brand integrated?
We have definitely made our learnings and learned from them. The biggest mistake is that I underestimated the time that it takes to form a real native task force at Ebner Media Group. I really thought we would set up the process in a shorter period of time but it took a long time to educate both sides - the editorial department and the sales department.
It took time to put them together in the help force and get them on the same page about what native advertising is. And this is definitely something we learned. That the transformation process within publishers - within every company - takes time and takes a lot of education.
We are not just a publisher anymore. Whereas the brands in the past wanted us to print their PR blah blah blah, nowadays it's more as if we've become a real business partner for them.
Understanding the business opportunities
The most interesting developments in native advertising at Ebner is that we can see the development of the help force. They have really gotten into native advertising. They understand the need and the business opportunity we get out of it.
Because as the spendings for a classical media are definitely decreasing then we, for sure, need to develop new business opportunities. But on the other hand, it's so great that we can evaluate and develop further.
We are not just a publisher anymore. Whereas the brands in the past wanted us to print their PR blah blah blah, nowadays it's more as if we've become a real business partner for them. Because they get to the point where they understand that by partnering and collaborating with us as a media partner, they get the best access to the target group, telling their story with a true native and true trustful editorial work.