Are Native Ad Producers a Threat to B2B Editorial Dominance?
Is competition for editorial bragging rights between B2B publishers and advertisers about to heat up? The answer may be yes, to judge by comments published in a new report from the Native Advertising Institute, 39 Predictions for Native Advertising 2019. There is good reason, and not for the first time, for alert publishers and editors to be concerned about advertisers overtaking editors in terms of superior content capability.
Certainly, the native contingent seems quite serious about taking on the challenge. Evidence of intent is provided by the contributions of several of the 39 experts participating in the report. Here are two such comments:
“There is no doubt that ‘true native’ will become more and more widespread as advertisers dare to take the role of advising and disseminating their knowledge, rather than promoting their own products and excellence.”
“Over the past year, we’ve seen more and more native advertising activities shifting to in-house brand newsrooms and studios produced by brands (advertisers) rather than exclusively be outsourced to publishers. Sure, there’s still plenty of activity for publishers, but it seems brands are taking increased ownership over tackling such programs themselves . . . relying less on solely leveraging relationships with publishers to produce their native advertising campaigns.”
Does this trend directly affect B2B editors? You bet. Remember when native ads first made the scene? Our biggest worry was the ethical impact of ads that closely simulated editorial design. But now the opposition is more determined to match or surpass us in terms of providing noncommercial messages with high takeaway value. And this seems to be happening at a time when B2B publishing annual sales sessions focus on how to emphasize vendor products and services with editorial hooks.
Looking ahead, many of our publishing folks who rushed to create sponsored content departments could be closed out from future projects by advertisers staffed with capable journalists. To some extent, isn’t that happening now?
To date, it seems the lion’s share of native activity takes place in consumer mags. It’s unclear how much B2B relies on native ad revenue. But given the trends, we should work to provide evidence that the special issue departments we operate can produce content superior to what native advertising practitioners can create.
What do you think?