IAB’s Clare O’Brien: In labelling visual cues – not specific words – that matter most

People don’t mind sponsored content if it’s relevant and matches the quality of the medium. What p***** them off is if they don’t know if the content is paid for, Clare O'Brien says.
IAB’s Clare O’Brien: In labelling visual cues – not specific words – that matter most

Screen Shot 2016-10-18 at 10.21.38By Clare O’Brien
Head of Industry Programmes, IAB UK
London, UK
Connect


This Q&A is part of our series ‘meet the speakers at Native Advertising Days 2016

Clare O’Brien is one of the speakers you are not to miss at this year’s Native Advertising Days. As Head of Industry Programmes at the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK she will be considering the challenges that the media and advertising industries face in developing tradable metrics that adequately measure the value of content-based and native advertising, beyond the clicks and views typical of digital advertising trading. Labelling is another subject that she (and the industry) feel strongly about. We talked to her about some of the topics she will cover in her talk.

How do we best measure the value of what you describe as content-led advertising?

The industry broadly agrees that simply measuring reach alone is not enough. At the end of the day brands have to demonstrate ROI. The interesting thing is that they are often investing in content because they want to buy into the relationship a publisher has with its audience. But how do we value that? Is trust a component? How do we measure it? Engagement via time spent with digital advertising, or video VTRs is currently being used by some publishers and demanded by some brands and agencies. Then there’s audience profile – is the right person engaging with this content? Is the content being delivered in the right context? And what about campaign effectiveness? There’s reach, but sales, brand favourability, propensity to buy etc., have to be brought back into the mix. There is much thinking, talking and work going on to find solutions, and I believe it’s a long road to find consistent, tradable measures that deliver true brand ROI.

Labelling works is in everybody’s favour. Poor experience isn’t just bad for the brand – it’s bad for the publisher.

Lack of separation of the editorial and the commercial side is the number one threat to native advertising according to magazine media executives in a recent survey. How do we deal with this threat? 



Good publishers maintain the division and a many mainstream media outlets are developing separate studios for the production of content-led advertising. In the UK, most brands have now established commercial content divisions (including broadcasters like ITV and Global Radio). And why not? Media owners are using their skills together with audience insight to create original content that works for the audience and the brand.  What keeps the division between so-called Church and State is highly visible labelling. Audiences understand when there is a commercial link and the IAB research we’ve carried out with consumers shows that people don’t mind sponsored content if it’s relevant and matches the quality of the medium. What pisses them off is if they don’t know if the content is paid for – even if the quality is high – and, frankly, poor quality irrelevant content. Labelling works is in everybody’s favour. Poor experience isn’t just bad for the brand – it’s bad for the publisher.

There are lots of different terms for labelling native, but sponsored content seem to be the winner – how important is standardized labelling to the IAB?

Commercially paid for content has to be labelled – that’s the law – how a publication makes it clear to its audience that it is paid for is part of the publisher brand. So if you take Vice, which has a specific millennial audience, and you compare that, say, to The Telegraph or Good Housekeeping Magazine, there is a particular language which is acceptable for one media outlet, but not the other. Publishers invest  years in establishing strong relationships with their audiences sometimes, so the tone of voice and brand of language are seriously important parts of that relationship – as is the transparency of what is and isn’t paid for. The IAB UK’s guidelines for publisher hosted and/or made content strongly addresses visual cues: Brand logos, for example, prominent placement of labels, other visual demarkers such as rules and tints. These clearly and immediately signpost that the content, someone is about to read or watch, is commercial. I’d argue that specific language does not particularly add to an audience’s understanding.

Meet Clare O’Brien at Native Advertising Days on November 16th-17th. In attending the conference you will also be presented with inspirational cases, solid insights and actionable tools that you can take home and implement right away. Other speakers include Stephanie Losee, Head of Content at VISA, Jason Miller, Global Content Marketing Leader at Linkedin, Michael Villaseñor, Creative Director of Ad Innovation and Marketing at the New York Times, and Rebecca Lieb, Leading Industry Analyst on native Advertising.

Want more? Sign up for the Native Advertising Institute Newsletter and get weekly insights and news from the people who live and breathe native advertising.

Photo credit: Unsplash/Ian Schneider

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