What Does it Take to Make Native Advertising Scale?

Start with good content, then add technology

Vice's approach to getting native advertising to scale is pretty simple: "You can either game the system or you can make good content. We prefer to make good content, and it'll scale itself," publisher John Martin said on Monday at an Advertising Week panel in New York.

A good branded video on Vice will attract millions of views on its own merits, but views that are bought reflect poorly on both brand and publisher, he said.

The question of scale often comes up in conversations about native advertising, whose reach is inherently limited by virtue of the fact that it's tailored to a given publisher (BuzzFeed has its lists, Forbes its BrandVoice advertorials). AOL CEO Tim Armstrong has said that if standards aren't created around native advertising, it could become too expensive for brands to create it at scale. 

Don't forget the human element, said Evan Giamanco, senior director of marketing operations at People magazine. "Scaling on that side of the business is really is about staffing and making sure you have the right people able to create content for you," he said, adding that technology is key to getting the content distributed widely.

Jonathan Perelman, vp of agency strategy at Buzzfeed, said engagement and sharing are the most important metrics to native but that understanding the unique qualities of each social media platform will get it to scale. "I believe that content is king, but distribution is queen, and she wears the pants," he said.

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