In conversation with Digiday, Monocle editor in chief Tyler Brule expressed his distaste for the term native advertising. It’s a “bizarre, North American piece of marketingism,” he said. Meanwhile, Monocle does some kick-ass native advertising. (The above screenshot is a display ad that links out to Bottega Veneta, running on the homepage between a scroll of hero photos for editorial features; it’s not clear whether or not Monocle’s creative team was involved in the ad’s creation.)
If the company’s infrastructure blurs the church-and-state divide between editorial and sales, it’s by design. Editors accompany ad directors on sales calls. “I’m of the opinion that all good journalists are good salespeople too,” Brule said. While the ad team discusses pricing and tries to close the business, editors give Monocle’s potential clients insight into the publication’s editorial calendar and explain the reasoning behind certain editorial decisions.
Once the client buys in, Monocle’s team then works with them on the concept, produces illustrations, and executes the final ads with their input. The result is an advertisement that meshes with the magazine’s look and feel and aspires to be appealing to readers. All the ads are labeled vaguely — with the brand’s name, followed by “X Monocle” — but leave it to the readers to figure out what that means.
I think the “X Monocle” attribution is perhaps overly subtle, but otherwise I’m a supporter. Monocle is a culture magazine, not an investigative reporting shop, so I’m not worried about powerful interests buying its silence. And while I’m not sure all good journalists are good salespeople (plenty are!), I am certain that all good journalists know the difference between a reported story and an advertiser’s photo shoot. Ads that are less sucky and a solution that’s convincing more advertisers to support premium publishing projects?! What’s not to like?
The CW is working with in-image ad network Gum Gum to place ads for the TV network’s upcoming series, “Reign,” at the bottom of mom-and-royal-baby photos of Kate Middleton. Very well targeted, yes. Some would argue, too well targeted.
From The CW’s VP-media strategies Caty Burgess.:
“We knew the royal baby was just around the corner. As we’re giving birth to our own royal baby in ‘Reign,’ we wanted to figure out ways that we can align our messaging about the [premiere] of our new show with what we were sure and I think even underestimated what kind of media circus the royal birth would be.”
From Tim Peterson at Ad Age:
Appropriating baby photos for advertising purposes — essentially turning the potential future King of England into a Nascar driver — is risky to say the least…. Won’t The CW receive the same flak as other brands that tried to pile on the royal birth? Couldn’t commercializing the child incite even more aggressive vitriol?
I just wonder who will have more fun with all of this, the media pundits or the lawyers?!
(Disclosure: I used to work at Luminate, where I’m still an advisor, a competitor to Gum Gum.)
The driving motivation, according to Lewis DVorkin in his latest Inside Forbes post, for the explosive growth in native advertising:
The $10 billion digital display advertising business is clearly in for disruption. Banners and rectangles, more than a trillion are served up quarterly, are increasingly wallpaper to consumers (clickthrough rates hover at a negligible 0.05%). They can also be sold and bought through computers much more efficiently than through human sales staffs. Those two facts combine to put relentless downward pressure on CPMs, the price marketers are willing to pay for 1,000 ad impressions. Falling ad rates have hit journalism where it hurts. The American Society of News Editors says that nearly 20,000 newsroom professionals have lost their jobs since 2000 (part of that is recession related).
Last year McDonalds Canada launched Our Food, Your Questions (more here), a site that invites questions from consumers, and answers even the tough ones like “Why does your food look different in the advertising than what’s in the store?” Turns out the ingredients are the same in both places, one just benefits from the Dove Evolution treatment.
When a former staff writer for Adweek (Charlie Warzel) shares your latest commercial with his Twitter followers and tells them, “I don’t even know if this is an ad, but it’s just wonderful,” it’s time to buy chocolates for your creative team.