Native, Publishing Partnership Still a Work in Progess

Native publishing content is all the rage, and with good reason, but is the market saturating?

By now, you know that native publishing is sweeping the industry, as digital magazines continue to cultivate additional revenue generators and provide more elegant options for both marketers and audience.

We’re big fans of native advertising – heck, we loved it when it was called advertorial back in the heyday of print publications – but with the explosion of in-house “content studios” and “brand labs,” there’s a sense that sponsored content is growing too fast to take hold.

In fact, Digiday has some recent news that should give publishers some pause. Let’s start there this week …

Native Publishing Not Yet a Perfect Formula

When it comes to native, publishing companies have embraced this source of digital advertising revenue with enthusiasm, not least because it’s cited as a tactic in the ad blocking battle. But that’s not to say native publishing is problem-free, Digiday reports.

“Digital ad sales intelligence platform MediaRadar said the average renewal rate for sponsor content this year is 21 percent. Meanwhile, native ad tech company Polar recently described renewal rates as ‘weak,’ with 40 percent of the publishers it surveyed showing renewal rates below 50 percent. Behind the low renewal rates is the fact that advertisers are uncertain about the return they’re getting on native advertising. There’s also increased competition as lots of publishers try to get a piece of the action, and only a few can offer the broad distribution that brands want,” Max Willens writes.

“In just a few years, sponsor content revenue has gone from the icing on the cake of large media buys to a crucial source of revenue. … But just as that reliance is forming, competition has intensified. Three years ago, there were about 15 companies helping brands produce sponsored content, according to MediaRadar CEO Todd Krizelman. Today, there are more than 600, and the number is growing.”

Can Incisive Media Block Ad Blockers With New Strategy?

Speaking of the effort to stop ad blockers, Incisive Media has taken some drastic steps that have so far worked out well, Digiday reports.

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“Business publisher Incisive Media takes ad blocking seriously. The publisher, which has 21 sites, decided late last year to block access to its tech publications The Inquirer and V3, both of which had ad-block use rates of over 20 percent. The result: Within 48 hours, the number of page impressions ad-blocked dropped by 40 percent,” Lucinda Southern writes.

“Emboldened by the success, Incisive has now begun banning ad-block users on finance sites Investment Week and Professional Advisor. The ban has been active for the last week and already the publisher has seen the number of blocked page impressions decrease by 55 percent on Investment Week and 45 percent on Professional Advisor. Ad-block users are greeted at the sites with blurry text and a message that politely asks them to turn off their blocker, explaining that ads fund the journalism. It also points to an FAQ on how to do this, because Incisive believes education around ad-blocking still needs improving. It’s a similar approach to City AM, which also uses technology from Rezonence.”

Demand Media Remakes Itself Yet Again

Demand Media has a new strategy of its own after several false starts, Digiday reports.

“Beyond getting rid of the junk articles, Demand gave the sites a facelift, cutting the number of ad units by half, making them responsive on mobile devices, and adding the ability to comment and share,” Lucia Moses writes.

“Demand also diversified its traffic sources beyond search (it won’t quantify how much) by launching newsletters, syndication deals with other publishers and social media. In the past year, eHow and Livestrong increased their combined Facebook and Pinterest followings by 90 percent and 50 percent, respectively, according to Demand.”

Has your company delved into native publishing? Is it paying off? Tell us about your experiences in the comments!

To read more about native publishing and other industry news, visit Digiday.

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