Native advertising reviving online ad revenues, say Buzzfeed and IPC execs

“Banner ads suck.” This was one of the initial remarks today from Buzzfeed’s VP advertising for Europe, Will Hayward, at FIPP’s Innovation Forum in London.
“They have very low value,” he continued. “There is no success going down that road, and some have reacted by simply putting more ads on the page.”
So how does Buzzfeed make money online? “Great ad solutions delivered in a relevant context,” said Hayward. Simple. Or is it? Buzzfeed has set the example for native advertising, certainly in the UK. Hayward said that native advertising excellence is achieved by thinking of content as a “gift”. Making it clearly branded is key, so it doesn’t feel as though “someone’s trying to flog you something. Content and context are everything. Think audience first – who are your ad partners trying to reach. People think you need to trick your audience into thinking advertising is editorial,” advised Hayward. “This is wrong.”
Buzzfeed is busy building a new video content team to compliment its existing branded content one, so watch this space for more native advertising examples coming to a social media feed near you. 
Andrew Sanders, digital business director, IPC, UK, gave a media owner’s view of native advertising, saying that it’s not a new thing, because magazines have always had community and are a “shortcut to a set of brand values.”
“We’ve been doing personality quizzes for years,” said Sanders. The difference now, is that “you have to add value to the user experience, and make them want to share content.” Like Hayward, Sanders said that putting the audience first and understanding their needs is paramount. “You have to put the audience and what they’ll like at the forefront at what you’re trying to achieve,” he said. Sanders gave lots of examples of how IPC is playing in the native advertising space, with music magazine NME being one success story. However, it’s not all plain sailing. “There is still work to be done convincing clients and advertisers about native advertising and persuading them of the value,” said Sanders. “It’s an education job.” 

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