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Guardian Launches Native Advertising Hub

Native advertising becomes a focus for the Guardian

According to Digiday, the Guardian says that customers were beginning to become their competitors, and that is the reason why they have started an in-house native advertising agency called “Hosted by the Guardian.” And by customers, they don’t mean subscribers. They’re talking about the advertising agencies that they once worked with and with whom they now compete with for advertising dollars.

The Guardian’s commercial strategy director Adam Foley says, “Branded content has become an increasingly crowded space. It’s not just our own competitors — more agencies and brands are creating branded content of their own. Our customers were becoming our competitors, which is a weird place to find yourselves in.”

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Here’s the gist of it, according to Digiday:

“The Guardian’s branded-content studio Labs has been around since 2014, but the new offering is focused solely on helping brands boost the distribution of the content some other advertiser has already created. Naturally, though, there’s potential to up-sell to Labs production in future.

“The quality of the content marketing in the U.K. is very high. But a lot of brands rely on seeding from third parties to get the actual content seen, which means it can often end up in low-quality areas,” said Foley. “Often the first thing a brand worries about is whether their content will slip through the cracks. We can drive a very influential and discerning audience to their content.”

All content is clearly labeled “Advertiser content” and will be featured in prominent spots on the homepage. The Guardian is confident that clear labeling of branded content drives better reader engagement and more meaningful results for advertisers. And the publisher has spent six months gaining evidence of this, running trials with 16 different campaigns across a range of verticals: airlines, finance, travel, leisure, alcohol, food, motors and entertainment.”

The Guardian isn’t the first to launch their own in-house advertising agency. The New York Times has T Brand Studio, the Financial Times has FT Squared and recently acquired agency Alpha Grid. Condé’ Nast has 23 Stories, Active Interest Media has Catapult Creative Labs, and the list keeps growing.

Another interesting note from the article:

“Competitors may claim they can drive 600,000 page views and 0.4 percent CTRs, but we would prefer to drive 25,000 page views and 4 percent CTRs, and higher view-through rates,” said Foley. “The real advantage to everything being so clearly labeled is that those who do click through are a much more valuable audience for the brand, because they know it’s branded content.”

It’s great to see publishers diving into native ad content, but even better to see them so entrenched in testing and data.

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