The news that Condé Nast is now seriously backing native content at the corporate level is exciting on many different levels. Of course, the very fact that such a well-established and influential group, boasting such assets as Vanity Fair, Wired, Vogue and GQ among its titles, is recognising that native is the way of the future is a major faith injection for those who have been beating the native drum since the start.
Perhaps more significant though, is what players like Condé Nast will do in setting the benchmarks of excellence for the quality of native content, as well as the quantity. Fashion and lifestyle titles have always been the canvass on which advertising creative show what they can do, both visually and with the power of headlines. Creative budgets for producing clothes and cosmetics ads for the glossies can outstrip even the ad space costs for other product sectors.
Fashion and motoring are possibly two areas where the magazine buyer is consciously buying the ads as well as the editorial content. Some of the photography in the ads is genuinely of art-house standards and a strap-line such as ‘because you’re worth it’ shows the power of a few good words. With motoring even the most mundane of cars can be made to look pretty good with great art direction, and really good cars can be made to toe-curlingly amazing.
One of the challenges for native advertising is going to be driving up the quality of content when the media is full of good native content and good editorial. The developing relationship between the editorial teams and the advertisers’ creative teams is going to be very interesting indeed; will it be an idyllic collaboration based on mutual respect, or will it be bitter ethnic turf wars as advertising bred writers battle with the journalistic genes of the media scribes?
That Condé Nast’s corporate adoption of native advertising and sponsored content, the very names framing the subtle difference in perspective, includes the expansion of their resources to actually produce the content for the client perhaps give a hint. It’s a very logical move; it is, after all, in the essence of native that the content should be specific to the medium and blend seamlessly with the unsponsored editorial. It also means that the Group capture the revenue that would have otherwise gone to the ad producers, which could go some way to underwriting any pressure on cover prices.
Somehow this seems much more than the ‘advertorial’ fads of previous generations; this is a major cultural change at a time when the media, in all its glorious explosion of social, broadcast, digital and glossy hard copy forms, has changed the very landscape of our culture. Whether editorial or sponsored content, both publishers and advertisers know that it will be the consumer who drives the quality standards, because if they don’t like the content, there’s lots of other stuff just a click away.
Native advertising producers know that, so do the customers; that’s why it works so well.