“We wrote our first blog post before we wrote our first line of code.”
- Jon Miller, founder, Marketo

Blogging is important for every business. So we don’t just offer ghostwriting services for others. We blog for ourselves. Why? To discuss big issues such as content strategy, commissioning and ROI, as well as tactics for effective copy creation or editing, not to mention news about Collective Content.

Remember, over a third of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type. Let us know what you’d like to read about here.

Tag: publishers

11 essential content marketing links from Q4 18

  1. ‘You have to have support from the C-suite’: Brands struggle with moving marketing in-house

The first of three links from those clever people at Digiday, this piece touches on a challenge for big brands. Even as an agency, we’re not against it. But don’t underestimate what it takes to move different kinds of marketing in-house.


  1. Inside Sony Music’s in-house creative agency

And here’s just an example, in this case, taking over the work of a creative agency, at a particular creative company.


  1. ‘Home run for us’: Inside Chase’s in-house agency

And don’t think this is all about brands and agencies. Publishers – for some time now experts at creating content for other companies as well as their own media channels – are a genuine option too.


  1. 9 things I’ve learned about podcasting for B2B

We’re betting big (well, bigger) on audio and voice search in 2019. We liked the practical advice in this piece, and its B2B focus.


  1. Ooh, shiny! Stop letting random acts of content derail your content strategy

We wrote a while ago about random acts of capitalisation, but this post is more important, if truth be told. With limited time/budgets, staying focused on your content strategy – and having a content strategy in the first place – is so important.


  1. What’s trending: The role of emotion in B2B content marketing

Including this because it’s so often easier to associate emotional content with B2C. But everyone in B2B is an emotional animal too. So here’s some science, and some tactics.


  1. The inspiring inbox: Email best practices that encourage opens and clicks [Infographic]

Email marketing is still a must-have for most brands. Here’s how to do it better. (Bonus points for this infographic format too. Agree?)


  1. How to use LinkedIn as a brand publishing platform

We’ve taught classes about effective use of content on LinkedIn, having partnered with the company for our largest brand publishing deal a few years back. This piece takes things even further. Don’t underestimate LinkedIn.


  1. 5 content marketing strategies for niche B2B industries

Above average, practical advice.


  1. No one reads anymore. What does it mean for B2B content marketing?

We would challenge the opening premise here. Many people do still read – and even long-form content does well. But we’ve all met people who say they don’t read. That they’re “visual people”. Where does that leave us?


  1. 5 ways fiction writing can help you produce more effective copy

Lastly, with several published authors on the team, this piece caught our collective eye. Find your inspiration where you can. Stay creative. Experiment.



  1. Great storytelling: Why your brand should be the supporting character, not the hero

And we had to include this one. This is so hard to do but at the heart of some of the best brand content. Content shouldn’t be about you but about your customers. Make them the hero of the piece.


Why 12 links for once? It’s more Twelve Days of Christmas than Dirty Dozen. Have a good break and see you in 2019.



Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent


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What price native advertising? Publishers’ rate cards investigated

native-ad-word-cloudIn a short series of blogs here on Collective Content we’ve been looking at the evolving nature of native advertising and how brands are working with publishers to put this kind of content in front of readers. In this post we’ll try to outline some of the ways in which publishers structure pricing for this native content and how much they charge.

To briefly recap, my colleague Tony Hallett first revisited the whole term ‘native advertising’ to explain the difference between native and sponsored or brand content and what is driving its growth. The buffeting of the traditional display ad publishing revenue model has forced publishers to embrace native advertising as a way of filling that gaping hole. In this model, native is produced by a publisher’s in-house creative teams and is designed to look and feel more like regular editorial, with the promise of greater engagement with its readers.

Increasingly, that’s done through a separate in-house studio or agency at the publisher, which we’ve charted through the rise of publisher studios such as BBC StoryWorks, Guardian Labs, The New York Times’ T Brand Studio and Wired Brand Labs. As we’ve covered in a post on ethics, there should be a clear division between a publisher’s regular editorial team and those working on content for brands.

Most publishers claim they do this. For example, Reuters says freelancers and not its editorial staffers create its Content Solutions native content for brands. Likewise, BuzzFeed maintains what it calls a “clear glass wall” between the two teams because its editorial staff must also be able to write objective hard news (as well as all those viral listicles).

How much?

Which brings us back to the million-dollar question. How much would a leading publisher charge you, as a brand, to produce this native content through its in-house lab or studio?

A quick search of articles on this reveals a few oft-quoted figures from some of the leading publishers. DigiDay (which also has its own native ‘lab’) is one of the most-cited sources on this. In a three-year old article, DigiDay quotes figures like $100,000 for up to five posts created by BuzzFeed’s in-house creative services team. At the higher end, Gawker charged $300,000 to $500,000 for 12 to 16 pieces of content. A more recent DigiDay article from 2015 quotes the Huffington Post as charging $30,000 per article for three million impressions and the Daily Mail charging $10,000 per article with creative built in for 40,000 guaranteed views.

We contacted 21 publishers, including all of those on our list of publisher studios to try and get up-to-date figures for what they charge brands for native content. Not surprisingly, of those that responded (just six of the 21 did), none was prepared to reveal exact pricing details.

The BBC said that, for commercial reasons, it doesn’t disclose its charges for BBC StoryWorks. The Washington Post also declined to give out any details. Guardian News & Media stressed that the presentation of content produced through GLabs for brands makes it clear how the content has been commissioned, produced and funded. It added in a statement: “The pricing of the funding varies from project to project as it depends on many factors which can be exclusive to each project. These include length of the project, necessary manpower, technology needs and how expansive the project will be.”

BuzzFeed also declined to reveal any specific figures but confirmed that those quoted by DigiDay are out of date. BuzzFeed adds, however, that its metrics are geared more towards overall impact and engagement and vary according to the type of content and the various channels of distribution. That’s a step away from the basic CPM model that some publishers still use for this.

BuzzFeed cites successful native campaigns with brands such as one with Baileys, which used the Proper Tasty video format to create recipes with a Baileys twist. According to BuzzFeed, that resulted in 14 million views and 274,000 shares. Another campaign for Skoda to encourage kids to reconnect with nature hit 20.5 million views.

While it’s difficult to get absolute clarity on pricing and charging structures, there is already a divide emerging. On one side, some of the higher-end publishers are charging top dollar to create premium native content for brands that fits well alongside regular editorial and engages their readers. That can be seen in the likes of the New York Times native article on women prison inmates to promote the Netflix series Orange is the New Black and the Wall Street Journal’s interactive piece, ‘Gaming the American Dream’, for the TV show ‘Billionaires’.

On the other side of the fence, some publishers are driving down prices with per-article, CPM-based models, and it’s likely that some of the prices listed by DigiDay and others in the past few years have come down.

As the Daily Mail’s Jon Steinberg told DigiDay: “I can’t charge what the New York Times or Wall Street Journal does. Part of what I want to do is be competitive and easier to work with. And I’m looking to disrupt them.”

We’d warn the latter approach potentially threatens the quality, integrity and impact of publisher-produced native advertising content. And that’s bad for everyone.

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Why trust is everything for brand content

This post was first published on 19 May 2015

This post draws on two separate but related conversations. Speaking on a panel a couple of weeks ago, one of the people who runs the Guardian Labs (who, I should add, is a former colleague and friend) talked about the ways his well-known publication labels advertiser involvement next to content items. A few weeks before that, I had a really interesting chat with someone at the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) about the sophistication of the average reader.

How are the two related? You probably have a good idea. Our ability as publishers and brand content creators to be good at the former (the labelling) doesn’t always match up with our assumptions about audiences (the sophistication).

When we get that wrong, as professional content people, we lose trust. And trust is the bedrock of all serious content.

Graham Hayday from Guardian Labs talked about that newspaper whittling down ways to refer to an advertiser’s involvement – including ‘no involvement’ – from a total of eight labels to the current three. (These are ‘Sponsored by’, ‘Brought to you by’ and ‘Supported by’.)

This is an issue most of us will face in the era of brand content. Years ago, there was editorial copy, there was advertising creative/copy that sat next to it, and on occasion there were supplements or ‘advertising features’ that were clearly created by or for paying clients but weaved into or around the main product.

Today there are all manner of standalone commercial creations – brand publications, blogs, white papers, infographics, animations, videos and events (I’m not even going near social media for the moment) – and often these aren’t even the hardest to deal with. Something like the Amex OpenForum publication for small businesses, for instance, is clearly created by that charge card provider, and it wants you to know that.

It’s harder when you look at media publications that are now dabbling in native advertising. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, because a traditional ad (advertisers usually don’t know which stories their creative will appear beside) might not need any labelling, whereas ad creative in a section developed especially for an advertiser (who still doesn’t get sign-off or any input) will. But that kind of ad creative won’t be the same as copy (the ‘native’ bit in native advertising) produced by a brand that will need a special marker, as it appears in the flow of editorial.

So we see ‘Sponsored by’ or ‘Brought to you by’ or ‘Advertising copy’ or ‘Paid post’ or ‘Partner content’ or any number of other phrases. No wonder a publication such as Digiday writes so often about labelling.

But do readers understand the differences? It’s not like these are standardised industry terms. Each publication uses its own judgment.

Phil Morcom, the head of the NUJ’s PR and Communications Industrial Council, addressed the subject of audience comprehension when we spoke a couple of months ago. He discussed the example of the UK, with its unique media landscape. The UK has one of the world’s most sophisticated media markets with high use of online media and multiple commercial players – arguably too many for such a population size – which means lots of innovation. There’s also the rather huge anomaly of the BBC, a public service broadcaster on a scale you just don’t find elsewhere.

Given such a media environment, Morcom asked, how can a reader know the difference between ‘Partner content’ as opposed to a ‘Sponsored post’? What about when an advertiser has supplied the whole package? How do they know when advertisers just want to appear next to a section of a publication, much as they have always done?

With so many ways to differentiate – or not differentiate – ad content from editorial, it will prove very easy for publications to lose reader trust. This is a challenge that will take years of education and openness with audiences, even audiences who are smart and sophisticated about how this all works.

Our advice is for labelling to be as plain and descriptive as possible – though sometimes those two things don’t go together. It’s also not just in a publication’s interest to say the involvement a brand has had. Brands will benefit from readers knowing they are responsible for great content, perhaps doubly so on pages where that great content also means one ‘Sponsored by’ reference rather than a dozen flashing types of display ad. Less really can mean more, for publishers, brands and readers.

Might this issue of trust and labelling be the biggest challenge the content industry faces?

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

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Contact us

Contact us to find out how we can help you:

Email:  tony.hallett@collectivecontent.co.uk

Twitter:  @ColContent

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Phone:  0800 292 2826