May 2013 Roundup: The Best in Native Advertising

bench native adThe fashion industry has seasonal fabrics, cuts, and colors.

The marketing industry? We have seasonal buzzwords.

And “Native Advertising” is by all accounts the marketing strategy buzz phrase of this spring/summer season.

If you’re not familiar with the term, “native advertising” is paid/sponsored content that looks like natural editorial or user-created content. To get a better grasp on native advertising – and to see it in action – I’ve rounded up the very best in native advertising from May 2013.

Hearst Magazines Jumps Into Native Advertising

A few days ago, AdWeek announced that Hearst Magazines, corporate publisher of hundreds of titles, including Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and Good Housekeeping, will be jumping into the native advertising arena.

Hearst is one of the first major print publishers to get into the native advertising game, a move that elicited this response from Robin Steinberg, evp of MediaVest: “I give them a lot of credit for diversifying their offerings. Everyone has to iterate, re-imagine the type of products they create and how they use technology to distribute.”

It will be interesting to see, in the coming months, how Hearst manages the roles of ‘marketing department’ and ‘magazine editors/writers’ in this ambitious expansion. Native advertising naturally creates a new dilemma that blurs the line between content, as we traditionally consider it, and advertising.

The Huffington Post & Digitas

The Huffington Post has been in the native advertising business for quite some time. However, in early May, the content publishing machine announced a partnership with Digitas, which allows real-time native advertising. This unique partnership marries flash-in-the-pan content with advertising and a major publisher – a model that could take off with other ad agencies and publishers in the future.

Politico Experiments With Native Advertising

Also from AdWeek, is this remark on native advertising from Politico co-founder and executive editor, Jim VandeHei, “Obviously our business side feels very strongly that this is a trend that’s here to stay in the advertising space.”

Politico’s first foray into native advertising (called “sponsor-generated content”) is an article by Matthew Shay, President & CEO of the National Retail Federation. Not necessarily the most exciting bit of native advertising May 2013 has to offer.

Yahoo’s Tumbler Acquisition

Of course, the biggest news from this past month in native advertising is Yahoo’s $1.1-billion Tumblr acquisition, which many experts argue is all about native advertising. As Owen Thomas asks, is it really just some coincidence that Fred Wilson, a big Tumblr investor, delivered a keynote talk at AdNatively? Nope, don’t think so.

Fred Wilson

Of course, not everyone is optimistic about Yahoo’s ability to turn Tumblr into a native advertising machine. Alex Kantrowitz writes for Forbes, “When thinking about why Tumblr struggled with native advertising, it may very well be because Tumblr was too early to the party. Native advertising is still in its very early stages and, even though advertisers might love the idea, they need time build up the capabilities and to figure out how to execute this new form of advertising before it can live up to its promise.”

With various conferences, mentions, and soaring keyword usage, native advertising seems to be here to stay. What do you think?

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Ben Richardson is a writer based in Nashville, TN. While he loves writing on a variety of subjects, he's our go-to on all things related to branding and the creative aspects of content marketing. Follow him on Twitter!

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