2014: The year of native advertising

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Earlier this year, a report from JP Morgan came out indicating that 2014 was going to be the year of native advertising for the media and social media industries, eclipsing the previous negativity associated with the practice.

According to MediaPost.com, native ads accounted for more than 60 percent of Facebook’s revenue in 2013. Meanwhile, according to Forbes.com, a report from Hexagram and Spada said 62 percent of publishers are already offering native advertising to advertisers.

Since January, here’s what publishers have been doing in the way of embracing native advertising:

The Wall Street Journal recently launched a new content division, called WSJ. Custom Studios. According to AdWeek, the division will offer a native ad product referred to as Narratives, which will appear distinctly different from editorial content. One of the biggest criticisms of native advertising has been how much it looks like editorial, delving too close to the abhorred advertorial for many media professionals’ taste. However, a cursory look at The Journal’s website showed that the sponsored section was clearly marked as such and even opens into a new window, unlike its normal news articles.

The Washington Post’s BrandConnect is being revamped to include an expansion into mobile and the print newspaper, reported AdWeek. It is also offering advertisers the opportunity to use the paper’s Truth Teller video project, which currently features movie trailers on true stories and fact checks politicians’ speeches.

NBC News recently launched native advertising on TV, broadcasting 30-second bits for Xerox. MediaPost.com reported that the bits, called “30 Seconds to Know,” feature original video that is produced by both NBC’s sports and news networks. The native ad pieces are reportedly a part of a yearlong promotion, and they have aired on NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC, NBCSN and the Golf Channel.

Meanwhile, social media has also gotten into the native business. LinkedIn, which already runs “sponsored updates,” recently instituted a new form of native advertising by serving to connect marketers with partner publishers. According to AdWeek, LinkedIn worked with Emerson, a tech company, to deliver stories from The Atlantic to reach female professionals. When a person clicked on the story, it directed them to The Atlantic’s website. Native advertising is becoming such a significant source of ad revenue for social media that BusinessInsider.com reported that native will be at least 40 percent or beyond of more than $10 billion in social media ad spending by 2017.

Finding ways to maximize ad revenue has been an uphill battle for publishers over the last several years, but it seems native advertising has finally offered a solution. As we near the end of the first quarter, there will no doubt be more news organizations going native as 2014 unrolls.

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