How to Hire a Core Team to Your Native Ad Studio

Podcast: Graham McDonnell, International Creative Director at T Brand Studio gives tips on how to hire a core team to your native ad studio
native ad studio

This is the show notes for the Native Advertising PowerHouse Podcast episode #1 – You can listen to all our podcast episodes right here.


Who should be your core team when setting up a publisher content studio? How do you handle it when your team starts to grow? And how much should the native advertising campaigns mimic the design of your editorial content?

In this Native Advertising PowerHouse episode, we welcome Graham McDonnell, International Creative Director at the New York Times’ T Brand Studio, and take a look at all these questions – and more!

Duration: 37:49

About today’s guest

Graham McDonnell is International Creative Director at the New York Times’ T Brand Studio. Here, he helps create advertising inspired by The Times legacy of premium reader experiences, evolving them to the next generation of digital platforms.

Graham and his team have earned multiple honors and awards including Marketer of the Year, Most Creative Native Ad Campaign and Native Advertising Studio of the Year.

As an award-winning creative with over thirteen years in the industry, he has created online content, film and engaging interactive pieces for clients such as Adidas, HSBC and Moet Hennessy.

Show notes

0.00-1.30

Introduction

01.31-7.14

Graham’s role as Creative Director for branded content at the New York Times and the organization of T Brand Studio as similar to a traditional creative agency, not as the newsroom.

7.15-9.45

Who do you need on your branded content team and how do they need to be different from the newsroom? How do you change, when you get bigger as a studio?

“Don’t be afraid to change the process if it no longer works for you” — Graham McDonnell

9.46-13.27

Who should be the first 4-5 people to hire when starting up a native ad studio? And what are the main pillars of a studio?

“It’s really really important to find those right people in the beginning. It’s really easy to think that ‘they don’t tick every box, but we can make it work.’ I’d say, because this will be your core team moving forward, take your time to find the best people early on” — Graham McDonnell

13.28-16.18

Cooperating with sales and how to organise your team with creatives and sales.

“It’s important for salespeople and studio folks to understand what their expert area is (…) where it starts to break down is when they overlap each other’s expertise. Either when a salesperson starts to think that they need to lead the creative conversation, or when the creative person or journalist starts to think that they know the client better or they know what the client should have better” — Graham McDonnell

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16.19-20.35

The design of native advertising – how much should the design of native advertising resemble that of the media? And what about labelling?

“I find that the best branded content has the same values and the same authenticity as the publisher but has accents of the brand woven throughout the narrative and throughout the design” — Graham McDonnell

Resources mentioned

Study: “How Brand Mentions Affect Reader Engagement With Sponsored Content”: https://nativeadvertisinginstitute.com/blog/brand-mentions-reader-engagement-sponsored-content/

Research from Native Advertising Institute “Native Advertising Trends 2017 – the News Media Industry”: http://offers.nativeadvertisinginstitute.com/nativeadnewsmedia17

20.36-22.11

Important learnings from T Brand Studio

“Never rest on your laurels. You might think a particular way of approaching things is the best – and it might be the best for that particular moment. But you’d be surprised how quickly it can get outdated” — Graham McDonnell

22.12-27.05

What will be the trends in terms of design in native advertising? And how does it affect your readers how you design the campaigns in terms of what you ask the readers to do?

“It should be a labyrinth instead of a maze. Instead of creating a piece that has lots of different avenues and lots of different ways to interact with it, create a labyrinth instead where it might be just as long, but it has just one path and you guide the readers through that path” — Graham McDonnell

27.06-28.46

What is good native advertising?

28.47-32.49

A campaign that you are particularly proud of?

Resources mentioned

“What it Takes to be Human”-piece for UBS, Case study: https://nativeadvertisinginstitute.com/blog/ubs-grew-awareness-ai-native-advertising/

“What it Takes to be Human”-piece for UBS, Original piece: https://paidpost.nytimes.com/ubs/what-it-takes-to-be-human.html

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32.50-34.53

Should you always do a long one-piece that will really stand out or should you sometimes try to get more stories out of the budget?

“Keep the story focused on one — maybe two at the most — narrative anchors” — Graham McDonnell

34.54-36.09

The future of native advertising at T Brand Studio?

“You need to continually innovate and keep pushing the boundary of native advertising” — Graham McDonnell

All resources mentioned

Study: “How Brand Mentions Affect Reader Engagement With Sponsored Content”: https://nativeadvertisinginstitute.com/blog/brand-mentions-reader-engagement-sponsored-content/

Research from Native Advertising Institute “Native Advertising Trends 2017 – the News Media Industry”: http://offers.nativeadvertisinginstitute.com/nativeadnewsmedia17

“What it Takes to be Human”-piece for UBS, Case study: https://nativeadvertisinginstitute.com/blog/ubs-grew-awareness-ai-native-advertising/

“What it Takes to be Human”-piece for UBS, Original piece: https://paidpost.nytimes.com/ubs/what-it-takes-to-be-human.html

Native Advertising DAYS 2018: https://nativeadvertisinginstitute.com/days/

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