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Native Advertising Makeover

Many publishers have recently opted for native ads to generate revenue from their content. These are the ads that run right alongside the actual content, and often trick the reader into thinking that they are actual content. As a result, they're often the "go to" option when it comes to selecting advertising for publishers.

However, advertisers and publishers are under some level of pressure to make the ad units seem less like actual content. That way, readers won't confuse them with real stories.

The Washington Post

The most recent example comes from The Washington Post. Its native advertising plan, WP BrandConnect, has implemented a multimedia template that you can see here.

Kevin Gentzel is the chief revenue officer at The Washington Post. He notes that the bar has been raised when it comes to selecting quality native advertising. Brands are creating high quality video, posts and research, frequently tailored to the special interests of publishers' audiences.

"We want our BrandConnect partners to be able to take advantage of the gifts that the Internet brings - all of these tools that help the storytelling journey," Gentzel says. "And they will also be clearly labeled. Labeling and transparency is key to trust."

What that means is this: BrandConnect advertising will remain labeled "sponsor generated content" and use a distinct background color as well as a different font than the one used by publisher content.

PhRMA

PhRMA, the trade group for the pharmaceutical industry, was the first advertiser to use BrandConnect. That organization used the new native ad format to promote the industry's investment in high school education as well as to fight diseases. PhRMA also took cues from the Post's content division to create effective advertising articles.

Interestingly enough, this isn't the first time that advertisers have actually secured the assistance of publishers to generate effective native ads. The New York Times, via its Idea Lab project, has worked with advertisers as well.

Just The Start

BrandConnect is just the start of what appears to be a business relationship between advertisers and publishers. The Post is offering advertisers the ability to reap the benefits of its Truth Teller video project. That initiative was initially used to fact-check statements made by politicians but has since expanded into fact-checking the events described in movies like 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Gentzel is quick to point out that the Post's editorial integrity won't be threatened because the company is cooperating with advertisers.

"I'm homing in on the reader experience, not how stories are being told," he says. "The credibility and trust of the investigative journalism that occurs in our newsroom is holy. We're just saying, we can create a better, fulsome experience through design and engineering that includes advertising in an innovative and inventive way."

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