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Native Ads Network Launched by None Other Than AP

Legendary wire service makes news with native ads network to provide sponsored content for members

While it might have blindsided some industry observers and rubbed some old-school publishers the wrong way, the recent news that the Associated Press is launching a native ads network shouldn’t come as all that big a surprise. While the ubiquitous press organization itself doesn’t depend directly on an advertising revenue model, its member newspapers certainly do, and as the International Business Times reports, their ranks are decreasing.

The AP needed to do something about it. Their plan is to produce sponsored content that can be distributed among local and regional newspapers around the country. The native ads would come from an in-house agency via a partnership with design and measurement firm Nativo, IBT says. One of the earliest – and certainly most prominent – adopters of AP Content Services is AP subscriber Hearst.

“We’re hoping to be able to make native advertising available for smaller members who can’t afford to make this stuff or could spend that kind of money. As you spread it across the membership, you become more attractive to agencies representing. I’ve been at AP for 18 years, and the common thread on all the things I’ve worked on is to help members in different ways. It would be overblown of me to say this is going to save members, but we want it to be a help,” AP Global Director of Digital Services Paul Caluori tells Brendan James.

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“It’s not so much an ad agency shop as a photography and video shop. A small agency within the AP, and the work is obviously not done by AP’s reporters. You have to be clear that the ad was created by ‘Brand X’ or else readers will go in with a different impression, and that’s not good for anybody. We don’t want to undermine the AP’s hard-earned reputation for fairness, clarity, reliability, trustworthiness. That’s the last thing the AP can afford to do.”

The response will be interesting. We’ve already heard some rumblings about the AP’s integrity and the state of journalism, but we feel this is short-sighted and even stuck in the denial stage of grief.

Perhaps a different perspective is that the AP will do a good job of generating quality custom content and clearly labeling it as such. The fact is, a journalistic format works well on the web and a display format simply doesn’t work well in this environment. Perhaps display advertising never worked that well compared to native content.

What’s more, all forms of well-done information can be a valid and helpful addition to the marketplace of ideas. Everybody has an axe to grind, and consumers simply have to be made aware of the ownership interests of the content producer. Anyway, that’s our take on it!

What are your thoughts on the AP’s launch of a native ads network? Let us know in the comments!

To read more about the AP native ads network and other industry news, visit the International Business Times.

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