Changing the game with native advertising

'Sponsor Generated Content'

Does “native advertising” bother you?

When I was first asked that question, my response was the inevitable “It depends…” And that primarily means: It depends on how open and transparent the advertiser and the publisher are about the native ad.

Just what is “native advertising”? you may ask.

Here’s what Wikipedia says:

Native advertising is an online advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience. Native ad formats match both the form and the function of the user experience in which it is placed. The advertiser’s intent is to make the paid advertising feel less intrusive and thus increase the likelihood users will click on it.

In other words, it’s an ad that looks like the editorial content of the publication in which it appears – similar typeface, perhaps, certainly a similar presentation so it blends in – but clearly noted somewhere that it is content provided by an advertiser and not by the medium in which it appears.

It’ll be variously described as ‘sponsored content,’ ‘featured content,’ ‘brought to you by…,’ ‘in association with…,’ or such like.

It’s not the same as an “advertorial,” a long-practised advertising method that is largely falling out of favour among many advertisers as media evolves – more publications are appearing especially online, many covering unique niches, and mostly published by people who aren’t traditional media publishers – budgets tighten and more bang is required from that ad buck where methods of yore don’t do so well any more.

And consumer behaviour is radically changing where the number of eyeballs on a mass medium ad increasingly has little to questionable relevance compared to the engagement possibilities through a more intelligent approach to advertising that reflects a greater respect for an intelligent consumer who expects more than just to be “advertised at” and, instead, can (and often wants) to do more with the advertiser’s content.

(For a depth perspective of the new advertising/content marketing/consumer behaviour landscape and the role of native advertising, read Danny Brown’s insightful assessment.)

A report in AdAge.com yesterday is the prompt for this post, about the Wall Street Journal’s entry into the native advertising game.

AdAge sets the scene thus:

[…] Marketers want to work with publishers on native advertising partly because it gets their messages closer to the editorial content readers have arrived to consume. And publishers are not just offering it up; they’re carving out new departments to produce the content, whether they’re text articles, infographics or videos.

That piqued my interest in what the Journal is doing, and how they’re doing it:

Starting Tuesday, a box with headlines, subhead text and thumbnail images teasing content produced on behalf of the data and storage firm Brocade will appear in the middle column of WSJ.com and on the technology front page, situated between editorial headlines. Wall Street Journal’s custom content division, part of the business side of the operation, produced the ads, which will exist in a separate section of the website.

The ads will be labeled as “Sponsor Generated Content.”

And here’s what that looks like; I’ve highlighted the Brocade ad in a red box:

'Sponsor Generated Content'

If you click on the ad – or tap it if you’re reading the paper on a tablet – you get a new page on the WSJ.com website with expanded content about Brocade’s offering presented in a similar fashion to a news story or feature:

Brocade

 

Note these interesting characteristics about what you see:

  1. The browser tab at top of the image shows just the description “Sponsor Generated Content” rather than the title of the web page or article as would be more common.
  2. The lengthy web page address, the URL, in the browser address bar contains codes to enable metrics analysis from clicks and is clearly identified as a Wall Street Journal address.
  3. Next to the legend ‘Sponsor Generated Content’ in capitals above the article headline is a link saying ‘What’s This?’ Hovering your mouse over it produces a pop-out containing this text: “This content was paid for by an advertiser and created by The Wall Street Journal Advertising Department. The Wall Street Journal news organization was not involved in the creation of this content.”
  4. There is a byline which says “Narratives by WSJ Custom Studios for Brocade.”

A clear separation of church and state, as it were.

This looks to me as an intelligent approach to transparency, with little chance of anyone concluding that there is any kind of subterfuge or deception about an ad dressed up as editorial. There is no deception.

I see it simply – if an advertiser offers content that a reader will find of use or value in some way; that isn’t simple a “buy me!” approach that is characteristic of much advertising; that assumes the reader is intelligent and has a mind of his or her own; and is offered honestly and transparently, then this approach to native advertising probably has a good chance of success.

If the reader then acts upon what he or she has read – share it online among his or her community, at the very least – then you have achieved a measurable goal of engagement.

It’s a good game!

(Via AdAge.com)

Getty Images ups its game in the collaborative economy

A picture is worth a thousand words, the saying goes. For anyone publishing content online, an image is becoming ever more valuable as an inclusive element in story-telling that can enrich your story and help it get attention.

Did the picture you see above get your attention?

It’s embedded from the Getty Images website under a new deal from Getty that enables anyone – from a website publisher, editor and writer like me running this WordPress blog to a mainstream medium employing thousands of professional editors, journalists and photographers – to use some of the photos and other images that have traditionally been available only under a restrictive licensing agreement and for payment of a usage fee.

Now, Getty will let you embed certain images for free when used for non-commercial purposes. You can choose from 35 million images in Getty’s overall image collection

The picture above – of a Boxer dog looking out from its kennel on the first day of the 2014 Crufts dog show at the NEC in Birmingham – is one of the many news, entertainment and events photos available under this new deal that Getty announced on March 6.

As for why Getty is doing this, BBC News reports that Getty made the move after realising thousands of its images were being used without attribution.

“Our content was everywhere already,” said Craig Peters, a business development executive at the Seattle-based company.

“If you want to get a Getty image today, you can find it without a watermark very simply,” he added.

“The way you do that is you go to one of our customer sites and you right-click. Or you go to Google Image search or Bing Image Search and you get it there. And that’s what’s happening.”

It’s interesting how media reports like the BBC’s view this as a defeat for Getty:

[…] In essence, [Getty] is admitting defeat. By offering the ability to embed photos, Getty is saying it cannot effectively police the use of its images in every nook and cranny of the internet.

I’d see it differently.

While the factual aspect of what the BBC says is true – undoubtedly, no one can exert control in “every nook and cranny of the internet” – it presents Getty with a great opportunity to extend its reach across the social web by enabling anyone to legitimately use images, that include links to Getty’s website.

It’s also clearly aimed at encouraging responsible use of digital content, attribution and linking.

But it’s also likely that it will open doors to more random sharing of content that you can’t control – for instance, look what you might see if you hover your mouse over the Getty embedded image above: a Pinterest ‘pin it’ button that lets you add that image directly from this website to Pinterest. No link to Getty, no control – but further exposure. That button is automatically shown if you have the Pinterest extension in your browser.

Still, it looks to me that Getty Images are embracing the embryonic collaborative economy with this move as a parallel model to its traditional licensing business. And remember, this open sharing only applies to non-commercial use – if you want a Getty image for your corporate brochure, website, TV station or what have you, you have to pay. See also what Getty did a while ago with images on Flickr.

How do you use a Getty image under this new embed deal?

Once you’ve opened an account at Getty – there’s no cost – the steps are simple:

  1. Click an image’s embed icon (</>) from the search results or image detail page.
  2. In the embed window, copy the embed code.
  3. Paste the HTML code you copied into the source code of a website or blog where you want this image to appear.
  4. Publish and share!

gettyembededimages

(Via The Verge)

See also:

Getty Images blows the web’s mind by setting 35 million photos free (with conditions, of course) – a good assessment by Joshua Benton of Nieman Journalism Lab. Of note:

[…] What does Getty get from the embed? Better branding, for one – the Getty name all over the web. Better sharing, for another – if you click the Twitter or Tumblr buttons under the photos, the link goes to Getty, not to the publisher’s site. But there are two other things Getty gets, according to the terms:

“Getty Images (or third parties acting on its behalf) may collect data related to use of the Embedded Viewer and embedded Getty Images Content, and reserves the right to place advertisements in the Embedded Viewer or otherwise monetize its use without any compensation to you.”

Getty Images makes 35 million images free in fight against copyright infringement – detailed description by Olivier Laurent of the British Journal of Photography, with quoted explanations from Getty. Of note:

“What we’ve decided to do is to provide through the embed player the capability to use this imagery, but there’s a value for Getty Images and the content owners,” says [Craig] Peters, [senior vice president of business development, content and marketing at Getty Images]. “And that value is in three parts. First, there will be attribution around that image, and since we’re serving the image, we’re actually going to make sure there’s proper attribution. Second, all of the images will link back to our site and directly to the image’s details page. So anybody that has a valid commercial need for that image will be able to license that imagery from our website. Third, since all the images are served by Getty Images, we’ll have access to the information on who and how that image is being used and viewed, and we’ll reserve the right to utilise that data to the benefit of our business.”

Smartphones preferred device for news among affluent consumers says BBC

bbcnewsinfographsnip

The results of a new survey for BBC World News shows a surge in smartphone use for consuming news among affluent consumers compared to the general population. The BBC defines “affluent consumers” as the highest 20 percent income earners in each country surveyed.

What the BBC describes as the world’s first study into the use of mobile by affluent consumers – over 6,000 such people were surveyed in Australia, Germany, Sweden, India, Hong Kong and the US – shows a 15 percent yearly increase in the amount of people who would prefer to use a phone to read the news compared to a 17 percent decline for desktop computers.

In terms of how those surveyed prefer to read the news on their smartphones, the results make that quite clear:

News apps are the most commonly used apps on affluent consumers’ mobile phones, whilst social network apps are favoured by the general population.

BBC News Android appBBC News Android app

Speaking as a smartphone user of the BBC News app for Android devices, my view is that the app must present the user with a compelling experience to not only read the news but also be able to easily share it across the social web. You’d also want to be able to customise the app to your preferences and have it automatically update the news for you even when it’s not open.

And you’d prefer such an app for news consumption and social sharing over other high-use apps such as social networking apps, and have the opportunity to use it for contributing news to the BBC if you want to.

The BBC’s News app does all that and more.

The survey presents more rich metrics on mobile usage by affluent consumers:

  • 51 per cent of affluent consumers use their mobile phone for business, compared to 40 per cent of the general population.
  • Affluent consumers are 18 per cent more likely to share their location to get relevant services than the general population.
  • A third of affluent consumers agree that, if a brand wants to be modern and dynamic, it needs to be on mobile – 15 per cent higher than the general population.
  • Mobile advertising is twice as effective as the proven desktop in driving key brand metrics such as awareness, favourability and purchase intent amongst the total population. This figure rises to four times as effective for affluent consumers.
  • High-income earners are as positive towards advertising on mobile (19 per cent) as desktop (18 per cent). The percentage who are happy to see ads on mobile websites rises to 41 per cent for sites where the content is free.

The BBC says that the results reveal the increasing importance of smartphones to affluent consumers and demonstrate the extent to which mobile devices are integrated into both their personal and their business lives, as improved technology enables greater engagement with content.

The study also provides evidence that affluent consumers – a large proportion of the BBC World News and BBC.com/news audience – are significantly more receptive to mobile advertising than the general population.

(The focus on and talk about mobile advertising reflects the BBC’s commercial activity in markets outside the UK. Within the UK, we don’t see ads on any BBC property: the BBC gets its revenue from the annual license fee everyone has to pay – widely seen as a tax – plus a government grant.)

Earlier last year, the BBC released the results of a survey that, for the first time, measured news consumption habits across multiple devices – the so-called “second-screen experience.”

That survey offered some credible insights into the growing impact of TV, smartphones, tablets and laptops on the news consumption habits of more than 3,600 people surveyed in nine representative markets.

This latest survey reinforces key messages from that previous survey about the importance of mobile and smartphone usage to news organizations, advertisers and brand owners alike.

According to Jim Egan, CEO of BBC Global News:

This new research reveals significant change in mobile consumption – people are delving deeper into stories on their mobiles, consuming more video and, significantly, growing accustomed to advertising on their mobiles. This large study provides compelling evidence that mobile advertising works with affluent mobile consumers in particular and that has big implications for publishers and advertisers alike.

No doubt among the topics being discussed in Barcelona, Spain, this week at the 2014 Mobile World Congress.

Get an overview of the survey findings in this BBC infographic:

(Click for large infographic PDF)

FIR Cut: What happens if you mis-label native advertising?

Water works!

Content from advertisers that resembles editorial coverage, commonly called native advertising, is drawing heightened scrutiny in the US from the Federal Trade Commission, which wants to establish guidelines for labelling it clearly. The New York Times reports that Shape magazine has drawn a rebuke for such content from advertising regulators for an unusual case in which it served as both publisher and advertiser…

Overflow from FIR #739 on January 20, 2013. Discussion reference:

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Curate and share stories in custom timelines on Twitter

Hot on the heels of its stock market debut last week, Twitter launched a new feature yesterday that lets you create timelines of tweets and share that curated content across the social web.

Called custom timelines, the new feature is enabled in an update to TweetDeck, the dashboard app that lets you manage multiple Twitter accounts with views into conversations via multiple columns. TweetDeck is a long-time favourite of power users.

Introducing Custom Timelines

If you’re a fan of Storify, the concept of custom timelines will be familiar to you. Storify is a web service that lets you create and curate stories and timelines using content published not only on Twitter but also on other social channels such as Facebook and Instagram.

It’s a hugely popular tool that gives you a record of tweets, status updates, snapshots and more, the kinds of things people create and post during an event, for instance.

Such content in timelines offer glimpses and insights into the informal, often spontaneous and usually authentic opinions of people as they experience something that they share online.

It’s very easy to understand how to use custom timelines, so creating one is quite straightforward as I discovered when I created my first one: tweets in an informal tweetchat that complemented “Is the Social Business Gold Rush Over?“, a webinar discussion organized by Our Social Times that I logged into yesterday.

Twitter’s announcement post is a good guide on how to create custom timelines in TweetDeck. The Next Web also has a useful guide.

And here is the custom timeline I created, an embed I created via the widgets tool in my Twitter account on the web around the webinar hashtag #socbiz2013:

All the tweets are arranged chronologically: that’s how it came out, not how I chose it. That seems to be the only display choice at the moment.

You manage how you share your custom timeline via TweetDeck, from where you initiate the procedure to create an embed widget, view the timeline in your Twitter account on the web, and tweet about it.

Share custom timeline

The new feature is available now in an updated version of TweetDeck for Windows (that’s the one I use), and I heard it’s also already rolled out on TweetDeck Chrome. A Mac version is coming soon, Twitter says.

I can see Twitter custom timelines – they need to come up with a snappier, memorable name for this – proving popular in the same way Storify has. Indeed, I think this will present a significant challenge to Storify as it offers another option to Twitter users that is part of the Twitter ecosystem and easily usable from within a Twitter app.

It doesn’t have the wider customization ability as Storify does – only sorts tweets chronologically, for instance; no adding notes about individual content – but I think it will get strong take-up among power users.

Twitter custom timelines also offer something quite interesting that will be of distinct interest to the more tech-minded users: the custom timelines API beta:

[…] This new API will open up interesting opportunities, such as programming your custom timelines based on the logic that you choose, or building tools that help people create their own custom timelines, as TweetDeck does.

In sum, by adding custom timelines as an interesting and useful new feature to its service that will encourage wide sharing of content by users, Twitter is aiming to increase its visibility across the social web to gain greater awareness and, ultimately, more users and more opportunities for advertising exposure.

Twitter’s debut on the New York Stock Exchange last week (stock market symbol: TWTR) is a milestone in the evolution of a simple text-messaging tool that, in seven years, has grown to be a significant and influential part of the contemporary mainstream. Take a look at its updated About pages.

Looks like Twitter means business.

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Exuberance, imagination and style on display at #somecomms Awards

Award winners!

If I’d been a keen fan of Arsenal football club, I’d have been in seventh heaven last Thursday evening.

I was at the Emirates stadium – Arsenal’s home in north London – for the huge shindig that was the UK Social Media Communications Awards 2013. It was an event that attracted not far off 300 people who mixed, matched, dined, congratulated and partied the evening away in one of the most enjoyable and well organized events I’ve taken part in in a very long time.

A different seventh heaven!

The UK Social Media Communications Awards is an annual programme of recognition, founded four years ago by Andy and Nicky Wake of Don’t Panic Projects. This was the first time it’s been held in London, having previously been a Manchester affair.

The purpose of the awards dinner and ceremony is clear:

This evening, we’re celebrating the very best in social media communications and recognising the individuals, companies and organisations that are transforming the use of online to communicate in fresh and innovative ways.

As one of the awards judges, I can attest to those sentiments. There is much imagination and creativity alive and flourishing in the UK digital communication space as evidenced by the nineteen award-winners:

  • Best Use of Twitter: Defra – News and External Communications Team, Defra
  • Best Use of Facebook: NHS Blood and Transplant – 100,000 donors in 100 days
  • Best Use of YouTube: NHS Greater East Midlands Commissioning Support Unit – Hand Washing Gangnam Style
  • Best Business Blog: TopLine Communications – B2B PR Blog
  • Best Community Engagement: We Are Social – Heinz: Grow Your Own
  • Best Use of Social Media to Research and Evaluate: MEC – Next Generation Social Insight Initiative
  • Best Use of Social Media in a Crisis: O2 – O2 Network Outage
  • Innovation: Greater Manchester Police – ‘GMPolice’ Smartphone app
  • Low Budget Campaign: The University of Nottingham – A Fresh Start
  • Public Sector: East Sussex County Council and Cobb PR – Go e-Sussex
  • Best Viral Campaign: Manning Gottlieb OMD – Should’ve gone to Specsavers & the ball boy
  • Charity / Not For Profit: Cancer Research UK – Research Kills Cancer campaign
  • Best Social Media Campaign: Hope&Glory – Meantime’s True Brew of London (AKA: Hops in a Box)
  • Mark Hanson Award: Joanna Halton – McCann Manchester
  • Best in House Team: MTV Marketing Department
  • Best Small Agency: Hope&Glory
  • Best Large Agency: We Are Social
  • Grand Prix Award: NHS Blood and Transplant – 100,000 donors in 100 days
  • Outstanding Contribution to Social Media: Stuart Bruce

The razzmatazz as each award was presented was terrific (each time I presented one, I was sorely tempted to say, “And the BAFTA goes to…”). While we wait for the professional photos to be available (check the awards website for news on that - the photos are up on Flickr, 170 of them: UK Social Media Communications Awards 2013), I think this collection of pics I took with my Galaxy S4’s excellent camera do convey a good sense of that razzmatazz.

(If you don’t see the slideshow embedded above, view the photos at Flickr.)

There’s more razzmatazz in some very cool pics by many of the participants themselves enabled by headline sponsor UKFast via the Pictures are Power photo booth.

Imaginations writ large!

There’s still more – check this Storify curation of tweets, photos and other content expertly assembled by Gabrielle Laine-Peters:

I was thrilled that my good friend Bryan Person and his wife, Stella, could be there while they’re over here on a visit from Texas. Thanks to Andy Wake for enabling Bryan to be part of things, even presenting an award.

So a great evening, expertly organized and leaving you with a sense of great pleasure for not only having had a good time, but also from experiencing the exuberance, confidence and sheer enjoyment of everyone there, award winners and participants alike.

Great work by the Don’t Panic team, led by Andy in particular. I first met Nicky and Andy in Sunderland in 2005 in those early days of social media when it was all about blogging. Indeed, it was Nicky’s and Andy’s early days with Don’t Panic.

Since then, they’ve come a long way on a successful journey. Well done, all!

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