Hearst to offer brands ‘real-time’ native ads

Hearst Magazines has become the latest publisher to jump onto the native ad trend with new products that will let advertisers serve online ads that fit better with editorial content.

Hearst is allowing brands to create ads that look and feel like editorial content.

The Cosmopolitan publisher has announced the launch of five advertising tools (see box out) that integrate ads with editorial content across its mobile, video, online and social content.

The offering centres around a teaser box that resembles a page’s content theme and allows users to click through to find partner-supported, contextual information on the topic of interest. The aim is to make the tone or type of editorial content in some way, but will be clearly recognisable to avoid confusion.

The media owner has experimented with native advertising in the past, however its latest attempt is the first time it will offer a scalable solution across all its titles and channels.

Kristine Welker, chief revenue officer of Hearst Magazines Digital Media, says the publisher’s foray into the native advertising space offers “real time opportunities for marketers” in a way that is “native” and “authentic” to the user experience. The publisher has around 63 million monthly users and is hoping the launch will encourage brands to invest in more targeted campaigns.

Welker adds: “Native advertising is not new to Hearst. Our next-generation native solutions are multi-dimensional, work in conjunction with many platforms and scale across our brands and portfolio of sites, because to be truly native, you can’t take a ‘one size fits all’ approach.”

The move is part of a wider shift from media owners to offer brands more integrated ways of producing branded content. IPC Media unveiled its own native advertising mobile tools earlier this month (16 May), while Yahoo and the Huffington Post have also made moves into the area since the turn of the year.

Media experts say the trend is leading to more strategic partnerships being formed as editorial staff increasingly create content for ads. The point was hotly debated at the PPA’s annual conference this month, where concerns were raised over how much journalists should be involved in the production of native ads.

Hearst’s native advertising products:

  • Developing Story – a page which pairs content from an advertiser with a specific developing story.
  • Trend Collage – a brand-specific Pinterest-style photo grid that allows brands to offer click-to-buy transactions
  • Video Playgroup – a platform which aggregates short form, themed video content into a single page that can then be served across multiple sites.
  • Social Live Stream – a rolling scroll that integrates live tweets, Pinterest pins and other social media posts onto a sponsored page around a theme.
  • Mobile Flipbook – an image-based mobile ad unit that highlights the top content on a site. Marketers receive placement in this unit, which drives traffic to a sponsored flipbook.

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