Thought Leadership

Leadership in Native Advertising

Last week, I gave a keynote on Leadership in Native at the Publisher’s Summit. I thought I’d bring together the headlines from the presentation, so here are 10 things to know from the event.

  1. Our brands are perfectly positioned to deliver great native advertising. They are powerful and influential which is precisely what marketers need. For example, Grazia has just changed the law and is directly responsible for the introduction of the Equal Pay Act later this year.
  2. There are some major threats to brand marketing, with one in five people in the UK now using ad blockers (IAB). We need to be even smarter to understand how we can react to continued change in consumer behaviour and absolutely have to understand how to influence this.
  3. Patronising the audience is a deadly sin – we must look beyond the generic when it comes to audiences. A great example of this is young adults; they are often labelled as generation rent, but this doesn’t mean they have a negative attitude towards life. In fact, they are one of the most creative and smart generations and do want both short and long form content, just at a time when it suits them – it’s not all about snackable content!
  4. Not all content is equal. Leadership in native comes from understanding the importance and value of powerful, curated content and the talented craftsmen and women that understand how to connect with audience. We are in the perfect position to be able to respond to some of the challenges that marketing is facing today. It will be the influential media brands that will win.
  5. Truly influential brands are built on the insight and the instinct of talented editorial and programming teams. They understand their audiences and, by doing so, are able to build media brands that shape popular culture. Talent is the major point of difference for media owners to the content wannabes who claim they can do content too. Take the work Terri does with Empire, entertaining its audience in print, online, on podcasts, via the awards and in September we will even be bringing the film world into the consumers’ world with Empire Live at the O2.
  6. Successful brand marketing will be built on deep knowledge and understanding of how to gain the attention of audiences through content that can travel seamlessly across platforms. A great example of this is when The Debrief started the national conversation around Food Shaming, when our news editor realised she’d been photographed eating on the tube. Following The Debrief article, coverage ran across national media outlets and the pressure led to the group being closed, only reopening later as a private group.
  7. Our media brands are in the perfect position to make advertising more influential; we can help marketers reach audiences by creating content people want, engage with and take action from. It is the right time for creative content teams and commercial to come together with advertiser brands with the joint objective to inspire, inform and entertain our consumers whilst delivering on an advertisers’ marketing objectives.
  8. The Debrief is built on native advertising, because 64% of our potential consumers told us that they understood that content needed to be paid for - advertising was accepted if it was authentic and added value. This is a step-change in the way advertising works, because the client is in a different position of control over the creative execution. Our work with Bacardi and Boots has proven that an open and trusting relationship with clients really does lead to campaigns that work!
  9. This is true of all the brands in our portfolio – Absolute Radio is a leader in branded content, with its four year long partnership with Wickes. They sponsor the Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show and use this as a platform to reach their trade customers every morning. The partnership has been a constantly evolving and seamless integration into the breakfast show, where we create competitions, ambitious story arcs, live events, outside broadcasts, stunts and genuinely laugh-out-loud moments. It works for our listeners and it works for Wickes - econometric stats show that this sponsorship delivers £10.6m total sales revenue for Wickes.
  10. Our audiences influence everything we do and we want to work with advertisers to extend this principle. Everything starts with the consumer. Another example for you… Empire’s longstanding relationship with Jameson shows how an advertiser can be involved in content that an audience really, really wants. ‘Done in Sixty Seconds’ has been created from the insight that “at the heart of every great movie is a great story”. Every year young filmmakers are given the challenge to recreate the story of the film in just 60 seconds which is then judged by a panel from Empire. It is the most incredible showcase of young talent and creativity and delivers that association with film that Jameson needs in a wonderful way.


If you would like to know more or see the full presentation, please drop me a line.