“Brands Should Not Produce All Their Content In-House”

In Norway, a young content agency is making headlines.
Content

Norwegian content agency Newslab was founded by former journalists in 2015. From 2015 to 2016 the revenue adoubled to about 10 Million Euros. Some of NewsLab’s projects include building a blog and distributing the content for National Geographic, which is reached by hundreds of thousands.

As part of NAI’s current spotlight on the production of native advertising, we caught up with Partner and CEO Kristiane Roe Hammer to get some background for the fast-growing content agency. Along with Chairman Even Aas-Eng, she has come on board to add more commercial competencies to Newslab.

Naturally, Kristiane Roe Hammer is a firm believer that brands need the skills of external content producers when they want to reach their target groups.

There are two reasons why brands should not produce all their content in-house.

“There are two reasons why brands should not produce all their content in-house. Firstly, it’s difficult to “talk about oneself”. You tend to push your own agendas and lose sight of what the audience wants. Secondly, it can be a tough task to recruit the right people for in-house content creation. The most highly qualified people generally prefer to work in larger editorial settings with a wide variety of tasks and with other talented people like themselves. A journalist will often miss out on those things if she only works for one brand. So if the brand doesn’t manage to create a creative environment, it’s content creation risk stagnating.”

“That said, it’s important that brands do have the internal competencies to work with companies like ours. And it’s always possible to do some degree of content production in-house.”

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More and more publishers are setting up custom content studios as NAI’s current interview series reflect. Even though they represent competition to NewLab, Kristiane Roe Hammer is positive about the surge in publisher studios as it helps advance the focus on quality content among advertisers.

“I believe media companies are doing the right thing by creating commercial content studios. If they are to successfully increase their share of native advertising, they have to produce the content themselves — which also makes it easier for them to be in control of the quality and to set the demands for the client. Quality content is the key to making native ads work and if media companies don’t manage to keep up the quality, native ad products will suffer the same fate as display ads which don’t get any clicks or engagement.”

Their journalistic background makes them the best at telling stories in an engaging and effective way.

Unsurprisingly, given that its founders are all former journalists, NewsLab mainly employs former journalists for the creation of content. But they have to know what they’re getting into, Kristiane Roe Hammer explains.

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“We believe their background makes them the best at telling stories in an engaging and effective way. But by working for us or other commercial content producers you cross a line. You’re no longer a journalist, you’re a content producer. And that’s the way it should be. The challenge is to supply our staff, who are used to working in journalism, with enough ambitious and exciting projects. It’s really fun to work commercially as well and we need people who find that exhilarating — even though it’s different from an editorial position.

When asked to mention a custom content studio she admires, Kristiane Roe Hammer mentions the industry favourite; T Brand Studios of the New York Times, which won a Native Advertising Award for ‘Best Native Advertising Studio over 20

“T Brand Studios have done some amazing campaigns. Some of their articles are among the best I have read — even compared to editorial articles.”

She’s bullish about the future of NewsLab.

“Business is going well in NewsLab and it’s not only due to our talented staff but also a reflection of how the market is developing. More and more advertisers are cutting their budget for display advertising and transferring it to content production. Advertisers are also increasingly aware of the need to produce great content that is genuinely engaging for users.”

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