Washington Post’s important insights on selling native advertising


Annie Granatstein ()


***Annie Granatstein will be among speakers from around the world at Native Advertising DAYS from 8-10 November. As a member of FIPP, you are entitled to a discount of €100 discount on the ticket purchase to the Native Advertising DAYS event by using the promo code FIPP17. Get your discounted ticket here***

In your experience, what are the biggest challenges for publishers when selling native advertising?

Clients don’t always understand the difference between native advertising and conventional advertising, which can be an obstacle to crafting and selling the most compelling programs that are more journalistic or native to the publication and less promotional.

There are often many stakeholders involved in approving a sale and they may have conflicting priorities and give conflicting direction.

RFP’s (Request For Proposal, ed.) often don’t contain enough detail to inform creative thinking. They are too general, generic or focus on metrics. We are left guessing what the client hopes to achieve, what their message is, etc.

How do you train your sales staff to sell native advertising? 

The sales team doesn’t report to the studio at WP. I train my pre-sale strategists to always put the story first. Find the most compelling story that both meets the brands’ objectives and will be fascinating to the Washington Post audiences.

Getting on the phone or better yet in person with the agency or brand is the best way to get to know them enough to develop an on-target proposal.

Stay up to speed on performance metrics and evolving production best practices to inform your content strategies.

RELATED: Brands and publishers must remain somewhat sceptical of trends

How do you most effectively pitch and explain native advertising to possible clients?

The best pitches are a combination of many things:

  • A deep understanding of the client’s objectives
  • A clear, engaging and timely story that will appeal to the WP audience
  • Clearly described executions that express that story in the best way possible for that particular story
  • Design mocks that bring those executions to life in the most visually engaging way

How do you create and effective relationships between the creative team and the sales team?

To encourage the relationship between presale strategists and the sales team, I advise them to call the client together and pitch together as much as possible.

Is it important that the creative team and the sales team work together?


If what you mean is the relationship between presale strategists and sales, then it’s important because the sales team has the client relationships to gather the information that the creative team needs to craft program proposals.

If what you mean is the relationship between the presale strategists and the production team, then yes because the production must execute the programs conceived by the strategists. So those program concepts need to be checked by production to be realistic in terms of logistics.

On the flip side, production has access to best practices and performance metrics that should be informing the presale strategies.

RELATED: How to measure the success of native video ads

In your opinion, what are the most important things to consider when pricing native advertising?

  • Outside production cost
  • Outside promotion cost
  • Staff hours needed to produce, taking into account each staff members’ level of experience

Why do you believe attendees at the conference should absolutely not miss your presentation:

I built out the WP BrandStudio at the Washington Post to quadruple the revenue, staff and number of programs over the last two years. And before that, I ran the same type of team at Slate.com.

Along the way, I’ve learned a ton about how structure and train a native ad team, craft winning proposals, produce award-winning content and turn a profit to support the important work of The Washington Post newsroom.

***Meet and hear more from Annie Granatstein at the Native Advertising DAYS in Berlin. Register now using your FIPP member promo code FIPP17 to receive a discount of €100***

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