Native Advertising Shakes Up The Agency And Brand Ecosystem

According to SocialMediaToday, 2014 was all about the Chief Content Officer. “CCO’s or Chief Content Officers will lead the pack together with Content Managers and Content Creators and really start delivering outstanding ROI.” In 2015, we will see more Chief Native Officers as the need to integrate content and advertising increases. The role of the CNO would be to define this new format in the advertising ecosystem. Many native advertising companies champion their own definitions of the term, which can lead to confusion for marketers looking to tap into the benefits of native advertising. While the definition of native advertising continues to evolve over the next few years, the role of the CNO will not only satisfy marketers’ needs for engaging content, but also to ensure their clients’ paid and earned media strategies have a cohesive theme and voice.

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Brands traditionally hired an advertising agency to execute their paid media strategies like TV, radio, and print in their target markets. Today, we see PR shops offering paid media services that ad agencies provide, and vice versa. The consolidation of paid and earned media responsibilities are a result of the burgeoning native advertising opportunities available to brands, who want a unified approach when it comes to the voice and messaging of their native ads.

In theory, this unified agency structure makes sense, but agencies do not have the right structures in place to reap all the rewards native advertising has to offer. Imagine creatives from an ad agency being looped in with the editorial team at a large lifestyle magazine to ensure the layout of a sponsored story properly includes the brand’s logo. Or a copywriter now must collaborate with the paid social media team to refine a sponsored Tweet, Facebook post, or Pin.

While all this cross-functional teamwork may result in a better executed native advertising campaign, are there codified rules of engagement between groups? Are there checks and balances in place to ensure the creation of sponsored content is not entirely controlled by one group over another? This would be the role of the Chief Native Officer who is dedicated to overseeing native advertising initiatives internally and through their agency.

On the publisher side, numerous internal groups were created to handle native advertising demands from brands. Forbes’ BrandVoice is the most noteworthy group in terms of native integration by showing a native ad on the cover of their print magazine. Similarly, Conde Nast’s Studio 23 and Time Inc.’s native ad group were created to work cross-functionally with marketers, brand editors, and publishers. Publishers are organizing their teams to resemble an agency that is putting pressure on digital agencies to innovate. According to Digiday, “[Brands are] hiring publishers to create content on their behalf.” Brands can go directly to the publisher to get their native advertising needs met since the publishers know their audiences the best. Savvy agencies have also developed in-house “content studios” to bridge the gap between paid and earned media, but the novelty is still apparent; digital agencies historically have not focused on producing native advertising content. Native advertising requires a dedicated task force where native is in the DNA of the group’s existence. The Chief Native Officer will be the leader for this internal task force as well as the key player brand marketers need to create effective native advertising campaigns.

This story originally appeared in Mediapost.