This article is part of a series of interviews that NAI has conducted with the directors of publishers’ Native Ad Studios around the world.
Please reach out if you want to add your Native Ad Studio to the series.
In the spring of 2017, legacy media brand Vocento, the publisher of Spain’s oldest newspaper ABC, expanded its business with the agency Factor Moka that provides direct service to brands and agencies for communication and marketing strategies, customer acquisition, content production, measurement and ROI.
Today we speak with Eduardo Basarte, CEO at Factor Moka and former director for Content Factory, the branded content division of Vocento. Eduardo Basarte has more than 10 years of experience in national and international companies, and he is a specialist in generating and developing new digital businesses.
Vocento reaches 4.3 million readers per month in print and 21.5 million unique users per month in digital.
Interview with Eduardo Basarte as told to NAI.
Building a Native Ad Studio
Vocento build an internal Native Ad Studio because we saw it as a commercial opportunity due to the demand from our clients and the increasing acceptance from the audience. In addition, we considered it crucial to create a specialised team for generating content in formats that fulfil two main objectives: to be relevant to our different audiences and, at the same time, to be perfectly identifiable as commercial content rather than editorial content.
We have two separate teams for commercial content production. In 2016, I set up our department for native advertising, Content Factory. Furthermore, we have recently created a new company, Factor Moka, as an independent part of the Vocento group. Factor Moka is a marketing agency with the mission to offer solutions to brands, regardless of whether they are interested in publishing branded content in the Vocento publications or elsewhere in other publications and platforms that we don’t own.
Factor Moka focus on the needs of the brands that hire us. The content is owned by the brand and we take care of expanding the audience for this content on all platforms that we consider appropriate for each project.
A key point for us is to involve the relevant departments of our company in the process and the technical skills that we have.
Setting the team
My team consists of content specialists (journalists), and people with skills in communication, design, usability, audience, production and analytics.
The ideal size and skills for the team depend on the projects. In our case, a team for a specific campaign can consist of more than 20 people because it is adapted to the needs and budgets of the client.
A key point for us is to involve the relevant departments of our company in the process and the technical skills that we have. For example, we have developed our own Native CMS called Native Builder, which allows us to distribute content in real time, integrate it into the digital platforms, test it, publish it and measure the results across all the publications of the Group.
All team members are in contact with the client at the point of the project development. The normal process is like this: a client contacts us and the commercial team detects what the needs of the brand are or we propose projects proactively by reaching out to brands ourselves. Then we present our proposal to the client and initiate a negotiation to reach an agreement. The project management stays in the content teams but coordinates closely with the sales team.
We have a comprehensive internal guide for working with native advertising that all the departments involved in the process share.
Ethical challenges in native advertising
A couple of years ago we turned down a client because the brand in question wanted us to publish commercial content without disclosing it as such.
We have a comprehensive internal guide for working with native advertising that all the departments involved in the process share. This guide completely specifies everything, eg. formats, placements etc. The guide has been approved by the editorial management of each publication. If we encounter ethical questions or cases that are new to us, they are dealt with by an internal ‘content committee’.
Internally, there’s always some resistance to new initiatives, but we have overcome them quickly with the support of the management and by creating transparent ways of working with native advertising which has gained the confidence of our colleagues. In the past 12 months, we have worked with more than 70 brands with great results.
We follow the industry standards for labelling native advertising. In the newsfeed, we display the name of the brand that pays for the content. In the content itself, the brand name and the logo with the words “sponsored by” appear as well. In addition to that, we always include a disclaimer that specifies: “content made by CF (Content Factory) for X (Brand). The newsroom of this paper has not intervened in its elaboration”.
As I see it, our use of data, the quality and relevance of the content we produce, the talent and the prestige of our brands are the key points that set us apart from our competitors.
Selling and pricing native advertising
We have trained our existing sales force to sell native advertising. We have a strong sales force associated with our publications across the country (Vocento owns 12 regional newspapers, ed.) which gives us a wide reach. The sales teams detect the opportunities and the content team makes the proposals and manages the projects.
We are really proud of what we have achieved lately by adding Factor Moka to our company. In just a few months we have created a very positive dynamic where the sales staff have experienced that our commercial content offerings allow them to renew and expand their commercial conversations with various brands to be able to offer them more options adapted to their needs.
We basically work with two advertising options: A 24h slot with guaranteed results on selected online publications and larger projects involving the creation of websites and publications for a duration of more than three months. In the latter case, it’s usually global projects that include all types of publications and formats.
For Native advertising we use a number of parameters that determine the price:
– Number of papers/magazines in which it is published
– Number of digital publications
– The format of the content: graphic, video, reports, infographics, series, etc.
Depending on the format and the objective of each project, our main KPIs are number of visits, time spent on video, number of shares.
The projects that we have carried out using a DMP (Data Management Platform, ed.) are very satisfactory. It’s a powerful tool for making good decisions regarding content, and it will change the way we produce and distribute content. In that respect, we are ahead of other publishers in Spain. As I see it, our use of data, the quality and relevance of the content we produce, the talent and the prestige of our brands are the key points that set us apart from our competitors.