Note: this post first appeared on Adotas.
As the publisher of the largest local business newswire, I know there is a great and growing demand from organizations, businesses and community leaders seeking to push their messages out to a largest possible audience. Why not? 78% of CMOs think that custom content is the future of marketing.
And why shouldn’t The New York Times? The Times has a right to share/sell their real estate just like anyone else. The only real question is how intrusive will it be. For me, it can’t get any worse than Facebook ads.
I fully expect to be able to easily access all the great content The Times has to offer and am hoping that they will present native content in a compelling way so as to help widen the universe for people looking to get their messages out to a receptive audience. Why expect any less? The Op-ed page is curated and I expect that the native content on The Times will be curated, organized and presented in a digestible format that either asks for or understands what content I might be interested in.
The secret to effective native content is making the content compelling to the reader so there is engagement. That’s what the advertiser is paying for. Otherwise, it fails for all parties. There is a natural incentive to make the content compelling by setting high standards and by pairing the right content to the reader through advanced technologies like context matching, user profiling and behavior targeting.
Why do we automatically assume that the only valuable content to a reader would have to be created by a New York Times reporter? In the local news business, isn’t the local restaurant opening, the new kids ballet class, the new show at the art theater just as compelling? Time spent online by content type suggest this to be the case. The Times announcement is but the first step in a process of creating a compelling and engaging user experience.
Furthermore, while it’s easy to attack change for change’s sake, on a macro level the local publishing industry has been struggling and in decline for a decade. Since we know that local publishers play a key role in our society, we must all be invested in the change required to make it viable. While traditional banner advertising click through rates continue to dwindle – they are down 98% in the last decade and you are now more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad – other monetization models must be considered, experimented with and evolved. Those experiments should leverage a local publisher’s core differentiators: audience, content and discoverability. Native advertising uniquely leverages these vs. some of the other types of digital agency services (like Pay Per Click) that many local publishers are experimenting with and largely struggling with.
The bottom line is that native advertising is a step in the right direction for The New York Times, for the advertiser and yes, for the reader as well. Bear with it as the industry involves. We for one believe it will becomes the cornerstone of significant revenue streams and reader engagement.