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native ads

Shareaholic Talks New Features and Digital Advertising

shareaholicIf you publish content and no one shares it, does it even matter anymore? Not really. Shareaholic is a “content amplification platform” built around that idea. Launched in 2009, they’ve recently launched some new features for publishers and advertisers. Marketing manager Danny Wong filled me on some of the details.

What’s new?

Our revenue generating tools come in three forms at the moment: Promoted ContentAffiliate Links, and Post-Share Ads.These are all simple and easy ways to drive revenue which, fortunately, do not substitute other ad offerings. Instead, they supplement existing monetization opportunities. For example, anyone can insert Promoted Content while still running display ads. Our affiliate links don’t override existing affiliate set-ups. Instead, we append affiliate tracking codes to URLs that aren’t currently being monetized. Post-share ads are a neat opportunity to drive revenue from your most engaged readers because they’ve completed the action of sharing your article. This is especially engaging for readers that may already be blind to banner ads. Our revenue tools round out the logical Shareaholic experience for users. Originally, our tools aimed to help amplify and market your content (with Social Buttons that encouraged users to share your content, with Related Posts which surface relevant content recommendations to keep readers on-site longer, and with Analytics which allow publishers to gain valuable insights about their audience to, then, produce content that’ll consistently outperform.)

Who’s writing the native ads? 

Advertisers. We provide specs around character limitations and image quality but, ultimately, they drive the creative. That said, we do provide guidance around best practices to ensure readers will actually appreciate the ad, publishers will feel it’s inline with their site’s brand, and advertisers get the ROI they deserve from the campaign. We also make it a point to reject campaigns that do not meet our quality standards to ensure the reader and publisher experiences are not compromised.

Many major publishers have become their own creative agencies. Are there outlets that are better served than others with your product?  

For the longest time, we’ve catered to the well underserved market of independent publishers. These outlets benefit the most from our tools because they may not have massive marketing or sales teams. In fact, some publishers have built their business to suit their personal lifestyles, and they may not be experts in sourcing advertising deals or in promoting their content. Nonetheless, they have super strong and loyal readerships that brands would die to get in front of. Then there’s Shareaholic, a platform that bridges these formerly distant parties. This helps advertisers reach targeted audiences at scale (vs piecemeal) and publishers that want to monetize their content without the headache of account management, sales, etc.   Read more

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Would You Let ‘Tablet Experts’ Handle Your Mobile Redesign?

logoIf PadSquad, a New York City based mobile advertising startup, has anything to say about it, 2014 will be all about tablets and native advertising for independent media companies. Dan Meehan, founder and CEO, explains that his company “sits between online publishers and advertisers.”

While large publishers like the New York Times, who’s redesign was actually more desktop-y than expected, have their own developers and sales teams to optimize the mobile experience for both users and advertisers, Meehan says that his company’s focus is on “the next tier of publishers, who have a large audience, and quality content, but rely on third parties to sell their inventory. We focus on categories — men’s lifestyle, sports, entertainment and are looking to power that long tail of independent media companies.” Currently, this means sites like GoldenGlobes.com, TheDailyBanter.com, and GadgetReview.com.

PadSquad provides its services free to publishers — they migrate the desktop content to responsive mobile sites. They make their money from the advertisers, Meehan says. “We handle everything on the backend and we work with national brand advertisers and facilitate campaigns across all the pubs that we power and then we share that revenue with the publishers.” Read more

Ready For An Upgraded New York Times (and Native Ads)?

nytThe New York Times‘ long-awaited redesign will grace our computers next week, complete with updated typography and responsive design.

Wednesday, Jan. 8 will also mark a shift in The Grey Lady’s advertising model, as the new and improved design allows for the Times to display sponsored editorial content, or “native ads.”

NYT Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. told staffers in a Dec. 19 memo that the move to paid editorial was mandatory for the paper to sustain itself digitally and noted that designers and NYT editors were working to ensure no confusion between sponsored content and reported news. Announced to start appearing this month, Sulzberger said advertorial will feature a “distinctive color bar, the words “Paid Post,” the relevant company logo, a different typeface and other design cues to let readers know exactly what they are looking at.”

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Is The Banner Ad Making a Comeback?

ft smart matchMake way for better banner ads — The Financial Times rolled out “FT SmartMatch” last week after a trial period. The ‘content matching service’ weeds out semantic relevancy between editorial content and ad creative, making sure that advertisers show up where it makes sense.

It’s pretty sophisticated, as Jon Slade, FT‘s commercial director for global digital advertising and insight, explained to me.

First, they audit editorial content to rank and weigh it, semantically. Then, they do the same with advertiser’s content — their website, their videos, their white papers. The third step is about creative — if there are 500 pieces of content, they create 500 pieces of ad creative. Lastly, comes what Slade calls the “special sauce” where an algorithm knows how to link the two pieces together. Says Slade:

It’s two fold benefit. We not having to place 10,000 ads, we’re only placing an ad when there’s a good match. So its much more efficient, click through and engagement rates are about 10 times more than the standard.

It’s more than efficient, I like that it’s not about going native and making the content look like editorial — it just situates similar things together. Slade is interested in moving towards more intelligent advertising, too. And he doesn’t think banner ads need to go anywhere:

There’s the idea that the banner ad is dead. We just think it needs a bit of love… advertisers are very sophisticated in their targeting,  but still applying the one creative message across all of their audiences. We think that’s not making the most of the opportunities that digital can offer.  So the creative in banner advertising needs a little bit of love and secondly, the placement needs to get smarter. Making sure you’re in the right environment is still important in any media buy.

Be on the lookout for better banner ads then, journos. Smart Match is a product of the FT‘s partnership with Smartology, which provided the technology for it. Smartology is making their rounds to other publishers, too, so it’s not exclusive to FT. What do you think about automated advertising?

Which Native Ad Formats Work Best According to Publishers?

bfnativeAccording to a new collection of data from Marketing Charts, online publishers are seeing blog posts, articles and video as pretty effective means of native advertising.

Hexagram and Spada surveyed more than 1,000 publishers, brands and agencies (most from the U.S.) asking their thoughts on which types of native ads they perceived as having the most success online in terms of engagement and monetization, and they found that 58 percent of publishers say blog posts are the most effective form of native advertising. Fifty-six percent say articles work best for their publishing platforms and sponsors, while 53 percent of news outlets think videos are the most effective way for their native advertisers to campaign for their goods and services alongside other editorial content.

Thirty-four percent of publishers report that sponsored Facebook posts are most effective, with infographics coming in at 31 percent, and tweets at 23 percent.

So why have publishers embraced native ads so much? Eighty-five percent say it’s all about the cash — they “feel that native advertising offers them a new revenue stream” and that “an average of 20.4 percent of their revenues derive from these campaigns,” Marketing Charts wrote.

Because publishers are incentivized by the cash flow, native ads aren’t going away anytime soon. In fact, I kind of think they’re just getting started. The Dallas Morning News is implementing them. Texas Monthly does it. Slate. The Washington Post. The Atlantic. BuzzFeed. The AP. Forbes. Seriously, just get used to it people.

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