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Native advertising tips from the Wall St. Journal, NY Times, and BloombergQuint

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World News Publishing Focus
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Native advertising tips from the Wall St. Journal, NY Times, and BloombergQuint

Most media companies are still looking to crack the code to sustainable revenue that will support their publishing business: subscription, membership, ad revenue. Bigger players among them have found their way by leveraging strengths from their editorial desks to offer premium, native advertising. In the case of BloombergQuint - a business news venture between Bloomberg and India’s Quintillion Media - it has found ways to monetise a platform many South and Southeast Asian publishers have been eyeing, but few have yet to succeed in doing so.

1) WhatsApp as the next native frontier 

The Indian middle class is taking off and sucking up vast portions of the country’s mobile internet. As users’ time spent on social media is ever decreasing, while that on messaging apps is on the rise, notes Ankit Dhadda, Head of Product and Marketing from BloombergQuint. The one thing that stands out is WhatsApp - the most popular messaging app in India. 

Some 400,000 users now subscribe to BloombergQuint’s news on WhatsApp, over half of whom came through other Whatsapp user referrals. The service boasts an astonishing 7.5 referrals per user on the messaging app, with highest open rates among all distribution channels. 

People love getting news from Whatsapp as long as they’re not spammed. BloombergQuint leverages the analytics from WhatsApp and invites advertisers onboard to subtly make their presence felt on the feeds, such as by slipping a logo into a news image or through a podcast mention. Sponsored messages are never sent out directly via WhatsApp, or “I don’t think we’ll have even half of our subscribers left if we do that,” Dhadda reminds. 

2) Native content must be trusted or useful

The Wall Street Journal remains a trusted news outlet in the United States, even as social media erodes the connection between the news brand and the consumer, and the divide between professionally-reported news content and amateur ones, says Nicole Bales, Director of Client Solutions and Custom Content from The Wall Street Journal Custom Studios. 

This new landscape calls for fact-checked and authoritative news. The Journal already has an upper-hand: more than ever before, both news consumers and advertisers value a trusted, authoritative platform.

One of The Journal’s editorial strength is data, which is now used to create ad content that is actually useful to the audience. The Journal’s data is also used to inform the advertiser as to what kind of native ad to produce, and how the advertiser could reach its audience.

“Native content must be trusted or useful, and must avoid being gimmicky to avoid being ignored”, says Bales.

3) A good story is a true story

“How to tell a Timesian story, in New York Time’s journalism and advertisements?” asks Reno Ong of T Brand Studio International, the publication’s native advertising arm. It is no easy feat to find a suitable ad ecosystem for a media known for its hard-hitting journalism. The Times has found that the most powerful story it can tell on behalf of brands is the kind it would tell its news audience: real stories. 

T Brand Studio produces campaigns stories that center around the lives of real people, says Ong, who is The Times’ Pre-Sale Director for APAC. This drives the power of a message advertisers are trying to put forth. Like its editorial counterparts, the Studio looks for original ways to tell even age-old stories, sometimes putting new technologies like AR and VR to work. To Ong, “At the end of the day, the story comes first for us.”

However thin the line between advertising and news may be, all three native ad experts agree that their editorial independence always trumps everything else. A few missteps will easily undo years of hard work put into building a trusted news brand.


Selina Cheng is an investigative reporter at HK01, a Chinese-language publication in Hong Kong. She previously reported for Quartz in New York. Selina's work has won honourable mention at the 2018 SOPA Award and a silver at the 2018 US Telly Awards.


Kimberly Lim's picture

Kimberly Lim


2018-11-15 11:31

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