Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Conde Nast Dives Deep into Native Ads

Andy Cole
Strategic Development
Week 5 Blog; Post #3

Developing Strategic Options Post

Lucia Moses’ “Conde Nast Dives Deep into Native Ads” explores the theories and practices of a modern-day publisher and the strategic options Conde must consider in efficiently utilizing this tool.  Native advertising is an industry technique that presents ad content in a way that is less intrusive, hopefully increasing the likelihood of users to engage with a particular campaign.  Native ads can take the form of promotional videos, articles, or other publisher-produced brand content.
            While the practice of blending advertorial and editorial content is nothing new, Conde Nast has started to incorporate native advertising to a greater extend and with more intent than ever before.  Although this may seem like an adverse strategic option, so late in the game, it speaks to president Lou Cona’s larger strategic vision for Conde.  Accordingly, Conde Nast “rarely…take[s] a top-down approach,” and has been utilizing native ads for publications such as Vanity Fair and Wired.  As such, according to Cona, “this is the first time [Conde’s] doing it a scale...It’s more important to get it right than to be first.” 
            As mentioned above, the key to this slower implementation for Conde is “scale.”  The market is bound with native opportunities, however readers are similarly becoming more attuned with the thinly walked line between advertorial and editorial content. Moses’ article explains that readers “interact more with ads…placed directly in the editorial stream,” and holds a greater opportunity for Conde to upsell advertisers.
The most pressing matter, requiring Conde’s strategic focus, is to ensure their native campaign quality is organically on par with their editorial content.  The fact that there is a large amount of opportunities to participate and interact with native ads, means there are an equal amount of threats to their effectiveness. Not only must this be accomplished without the reader feeling like they’re being tricked, revealing the advertorial impetus after the editorial content has been pulled out from under them. 
Further complications arise from the fact that all twenty-one titles under Conde Nast currently are used to operating autonomously.  This requires all of their brands to shift their own operational strategies and implement similar advertorial and editorial structures.  While a template of sorts may seem more advantageous and streamlined, Conde will have to placate a diverse audience with traffic “from the staid New Yorker to sassier Glamour.” 
To account for this, Conde is starting with a beta version where sponsor-content featured how-to videos will be adjacent to similar editorial content, but with a differentiating color scheme and background to mark their differences.  Looking further down their planning pipeline of matching advertorial and editorial content on as large and efficient as scale as possible, Conde plans to roll out different versions, where ads and their platforms will be used in content-specific groups, instead of all twenty-one sites.

Comments/Questions to Consider:

1)    What are some of the most economical options to engage consumers with editorial content without putting them off or making them feel like they are being used for advertorial ends?
2)    Would looking to joint ventures as far as best practices go help publishers in considering successful strategic options going forward in this field?
3)    What internal resources, both in human capital and infrastructure, would be the most advantageous to tap into in creating successful native ad campaigns; would this help decrease the number of differentiated ad grouping and make this side of Conde run more efficiently?
4)    How much of a “learning curve” occurs when shifting from an autonomously run brand to a heavier top-down scheme; what are the strategic considerations and the long-and-short-term pros and cons?

            Moses, Lucia.  “Conde Nast Dives Deep into Native Ads.”  15 April 2014.  Web. 15 April 2014. <>.

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