It’s incredibly satisfying when the big movers and shakers in the media world start showing that they believe what you have believed, and shouted about, for at least this millennium; the raw power of native advertising.
Only a few days ago the mighty Time Inc. announced the formation of a new eight-person team whose mission is to build their profile in developing native ads. This is no ‘toe-in-the-water’ venture either; CEO Joe Ripp has put two of his top people in charge; chief content officer Norm Pearlstine and executive vice president Mark Ford.
Pearlstine and Ford were not slow to get started, quickly grabbing Chris Hercik, previously creative director of the Sports Illustrated Group, as vice president for the native commitment and both Hercik and Ford have already joined the front line to deal with the native detractors.
‘We’re not trying to trick people. We’re just trying to create great content’, Ford reassured those who are still coming to terms with the spirit of native content. Hercik too disputes any suggestion that it is underhand, “Creativity is agnostic, as long as it is mutually beneficial to the brand and the advertiser”.
He might have added ‘ to the reader and consumer too’ because that is, after all what native is all about and why it is set to grow by a whopping 23% this year. If readers and consumers think they’re being conned then it’s certainly not showing up anywhere.
A recent survey by the Interactive Advertising Bureau reveals that 66% of ad agencies and 64% of advertisers are going to spend money going native in the next six months. You just don’t get that sort of growth and commitment if the consumers are not showing somehow that they like what is being offered.
So, anyone who thinks that Joe Ripp is just throwing money at a new trend can definitely think again. His previous role was as CFO and during that tenure shareholder value tripled from $3 to $10bn and he did that without any further investment, just ‘fuelling internal growth’ as he put it.
In 2013 he took the CEO desk and in April this year he became chairman; not bad for a psychologist with an MBA and a long stint at Ernst & Young the accountants before joining Time Inc.
It could well be that the psychology degree has helped him see the native rationale. Much of psychology is about how we engage with people and that’s exactly the thinking behind native advertising.
People tell you what they’re interested in by the media they read and the sites they visit. They obviously like the style or they wouldn’t stay; there’s no need for anyone to stay a nanosecond longer than they want in this content rich world and that is the challenge for both media and the advertising that pays for it.
That Joe Ripp knows a thing or two about people and business that’s for sure. If he’s gone native then it’s only because he’s absolutely convinced it is the future.