Selling Native Advertising Is Not Just a Job for the Sales Team

Speaker Q&A: Setting up a sales team and selling native advertising is not a simple job for most publishers. We asked Anna Arvidsson, Head of Bonnier News Brand Studio to share her best advice.
selling native advertising

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Setting up a sales team and selling native advertising is not a simple job for most publishers.

Luckily, we can always learn from and get inspired by each other, so we asked Anna Arvidsson, Head of Bonnier News Brand Studio to share her best advice. Anna was one of the speakers at Native Advertising DAYS 2018.

Don’t give away your premium business to the traditional sales team.

Setting up a sales team can be tricky. What does your sales team look like?

The first thing I did when starting up the studio five years ago was hiring project leaders and salespeople and giving them revenue budget. I found those superstars from marketing, PR agencies, and advertising agencies.

I have found out, from visiting other studios, that having your own revenue budget is pretty unique.

RELATED: How to Pitch, Sell and Create Native Advertising (podcast)

So if you are reading this and at the beginning of starting a brand studio, here’s some good advice. Don’t give away your premium business to the traditional sales team.

Being in the hands of someone else could easily end up with your department only being cost-heavy – not driving revenue. And then you have to defend that instead of focusing on innovation.

If you don’t measure, you don’t exist.

Agency people just have a different mindset when it comes to selling native advertising.

Why didn’t you hire people from inside the publication?

I believe that if you’ve been selling display and print traditionally, you are not used to knowing how to find and create the best story or idea for the client.

Agency people just have a different mindset when it comes to selling native advertising. They think more about how to create something that is actually driving engagement.

RELATED: How to Hire a Core Team to Your Native Ad Studio (podcast)

With that said, of course, all different skills are needed to solve the client’s challenges – the magic happens when you put them all in the same room.

Salespeople are important. But even more important is who in your organization knows the client best?

Would you say that salespeople are the only or most important people in the pitching process?

Salespeople are important. But even more important is who in your organization knows the client best? If you ask them, you’ll be surprised that it’s often your commercial journalists – so let them be in the pitch! Who doesn’t want to meet a specialist rather than a generalist?

RELATED: Why Salespeople Are Critically Important to Branded Content

Therefore, we work with cross-functional teams with competencies from all the different departments, such as key account managers, creators, designers, editors, programmatic specialists, analysts, etc.

Based on this, it’s crucial to educate everyone – not just the sales team.

Native is a premium format that has the luxury to lend the publicists fonts, branding and tonality.

Normally, we talk about native advertising as something to be used exclusively for top-funnel, but do you believe it can be used further down the funnel, for example, to generate leads?

Native is a premium format that has the luxury to lend the publicists fonts, branding and tonality. The goal of a commercial story experience is to add value for the readers and to engage them – exactly the same mission as our publicist.

So don’t waist that on a hunt for leads. We have another product for that, and it’s called content display.

RELATED: 4 Classic Misconceptions About Native Advertising

By the way, isn’t it strange that there are still publicists who insist on making native ads look as ugly as possible? Instead of working together to find a way so that the native ads actually do add value to the readers and melt into the news flow.

Especially today, when the readers have so many platforms to choose from. Why scare them away?

If you work with native and only try to sell something, not telling a story or building engagement, then native will become just another display ad position in the future.

And if a client wants not only brand awareness but also more tangible results, what do you tell them?

Buy banners!

We all see that display marketing is somehow declining and if we’re thinking that native advertising will save the day, we have to be careful. Careful about how we work with native.

Because if you work with native and only try to sell something, not telling a story or building engagement, then native will become just another display ad position in the future.

RELATED: How to Take Your Native Ad Strategy Full-Funnel with 3 Specific Content Types

So you have to do it the right way. And more importantly, you have to tell the clients what they can expect from the story experience. Don’t be afraid to lose the business if the client wants to measure it in a conversion only way.

You are an official speaker at this year’s Native Advertising DAYS. Why should attendees at the conference absolutely not miss your presentation on how to revolutionize commercial storytelling and create organisations for the future?

Because I have my life designer and Head of Story Experience, Nicklas Hermansson with me on stage. We will share methods that will help you become the number one in the world in whatever you’re doing.

Who can possibly say no to that?

What do you look forward to the most at this year’s Native Advertising DAYS?

I’m looking forward to meeting old and new friends – and to hopefully win a Native Advertising Award in the category Native Advertising Agency/Studio of the Year over 20.

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