On October 10th, I hosted a panel on native advertising with leaders from Rodale, The Foundry (Time Inc.), and PopSugar.  All three have had significant success in this fast-growing segment of the media market.  At MediaRadar, we’ve been covering this market for a few years now, so I was especially curious to get into the details on what’s working best. 

These takeaways are useful for any publisher, and answer many of the most fundamental questions you might have to start selling native ads.

  1. What drives renewal rates up the most on native campaigns? 
    There was a uniform response to this question.  I was expecting “performance drives renewal rates.”  Instead we heard: “Client service is the most important variable to renewal on native deals.”  Client service means managing the process for the client, so they have a single point of contact inside the publisher.  Additionally, while publishers allow for total flexibility, you don’t want to overwhelm the client.  This is high touch!
  1. Who do you sell native to? 
    80% of direct native deals are sold directly to clients, without any participation by an agency.  Publishers and clients feel like they’re closer to each other than ever before.
  1. What are your performance guarantees?
    When asked about performance metrics, we heard a variety of responses. Most interesting, however, were the guarantees.  Guarantees could be tied to raising awareness, changing brand perception, but also measuring lift in product sales.
  1. How do you price your deals? 
    At every conference, speakers present how custom their content is, to show that it suits client needs.  This is client-centric, but this 1:1 tailored approach is ineffective if you’re trying to scale your sales.  When nudged, each firm revealed that there is, however, a rate card. This way, a team of sales reps is not making up pricing.  A certain set of services and marketing will be priced out.
  1. How do you structure the deal? 
    One surprise takeaway is that some sales teams develop the editorial (paid content) entirely for free. The investment is focused entirely on advertising/distributing the content.
  1. How else do you make money from custom content?
    One publisher shared how they white label native content.  In this case, they are getting paid explicitly to develop the content. This is a fee-for-service model with a dash of licensing.  The publisher is paid for the original work, plus the terms of use when the client re-uses the content.
  1. Co-Branding vs. Native Advertising,  which is better? 
    Neither!  But they are different. Co-Branding is an advertiser sponsoring their advertising around an existing piece of editorial.  In contrast, native is content created directly for the advertiser - the editorial is a form of advertising in itself.

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