Sponsored content, native advertising and advertorial – examples of professional and pointless

HSBC on The Guardian

“If you want good branded content, get the editorial staff to write it” – Jackie Maxted said in Mumbrella last week. I agree but I can’t think who else could be left to write it if you wanted anyone to read it.

Editorial staff must get used to writing good branded content

I’d go one further and say: it’s now an absolute requirement of an editor that they understand how to write good advertorial: maintain the interest of the reader and the reputation of their publication at the same time – a tricky balancing act. Also, beware of the term “content“.

Digital advertising is splitting in two

On the one hand you have display / banner sales and anything that appears in a banner: banner CPM rates are on the way down and click through rates or other engagement are low. The value of banners to the advertiser can be increased by paying by action rather than CPM, making them flashier, bigger or targeting users according to data / behaviour but this is increasingly being automated leading publishers to plug an exchange into their ad server whilst their sales team concentrate on…

Sponsored content – every day now an advertiser or media agency will approach any given publisher with $x budget and ask – what can you do? The publisher is expected to come up with an idea and a package to provide a high impact and integrate the advertiser into the brand of the publisher.

The $ from these packages is so much more than display and the alternative to doing them is $0 so everyone is doing them. For everyone’s sake, there needs to be an editor involved at the outset to ensure that dignity and value are preserved.

There’s so much crap being produced

Of course, editors are lucky to write for a publication where their quality work can be distinguished. For some time now we’ve heard “advertisers must become publishers” both to engage users (maybe) and also, for many, because of some mistaken belief that by producing mountains of sub-standard, dull, light-weight and obviously self-serving “content” that Google will put them at the top of search results.

Editors absolutely need to get involved with sales to ensure that a slip from this bland mountain does not engulf their home page.

And remember “Microsites are crisp packets on the pavement of the internet”. (Great quote from Ciaran Norris).

Google dislikes unmarked advertorial

Good for Google – they don’t like unmarked advertorial (who does?)- and they penalise it like they did with Interflora.

The Guardian – Expat opportunities with HSBC

Expat advice from HSBC on The Guardian’s global site – a good fit in terms of aims and brands, clearly marked as far as who paid for it and who wrote it – strange to see other’s ads on the page though.

HSBC on The Guardian

Time Out – Destination N3xt with Audi

Time Out branded their own site for Audi as well as supplying content onto Audi’s own site – where to drive next. When I was at Time Out we moved web development from Australia to Brazil and a team that were fast and reasonably priced so when we needed to change the structure of the CMS and the site to suit a content deal, we could get this done quickly. I always thought we had an advantage over other sites that were stuck with a standard CMS or devs that cost $1,000 per day.

Audi on Time Out Australia

Sydney Morning Herald – The F35 and Australia: Opportunities down under and up above

This is terrible as it is simply headed “This page is advertorial – content provided by Lockheed Martin” – which makes it sound like the entire text is written by the advertiser and no editor wants to be associated with it – this is not the way forward for paid content – it lessens the value to the advertiser and the reputation of the site. Sponsored content seems to be a big issue at Fairfax.

F35 on the SMH

The dream: Go Pro’s video of the week

Well we don’t all get to market cameras used by extreme sports enthusiasts – but with these videos, they sell themselves and the content is user generated – users send in their videos to GoPro who publish video of the day and video of the week.

Sometimes teaming up with Red Bull and one of their professionals – here with Danny MacAskill’s Imaginate:

In fact I’m making a video now and I’m hoping to get video of the week myself:

IRB training - video of the week


Irrelevant and badly written: Spotify’s new content within their app

New “articles” from Spotify in their app are plain weird: stock photography, too many exclamation marks! and incorrect copy written by a child.

Spotify stock photography


Spotify bad grammar

Spotify written by a child


Stock photography invasion from Spotify:

Spotify stock photography invasion