The growth of native advertising has been led by digital platforms like Buzzfeed and Gawker, and their early success has prompted more traditional media organizations like the Washington Post and Hearst Digital to form internal units to develop sopnsored content. In October, Michael Sebastian profiled each of these companies for Advertising Age.
I've already weighed in on the risks inherent in a perceived failure to clearly separate an editorial from a sponsored message. Sebastian's article offers some operational insights on the move to sponsored content:
- All four companies have hired staff dedicated to the development of native advertising
- All pay their staff as employees; only Gawker offers a bonus based on the performance of native advertising
- Backgrounds tend to vary, although traditional media firms seem more likely to emphasize journalism and editorial experience
- Buzzfeed (40 staff) and Gawker (15) lead the way; Hearst (5) and the Post (building a team) follow
For some additional background, you might want to check out a two-part profile of Buzzfeed that my Quantum Media colleage Ava Seave wrote for Forbes.com:
- Buzzfeed's director of creative: 'Authentic content earns the right to go viral'
- Buzzfeed's native ads: Working toward a fail-safe performance
Both posts draw upon Seave's interview with Melissa Rosenthal, who oversees the staff responsible for creating sponsored content that appears on Buzzfeed.