Can a Branded Content Studio Have a Place at the News Desk?

Yes! And it works, says Anna Arvidsson, Head of Bonnier News Brand Studio. Her staff attend all of Expressen’s news meetings to learn the day’s news agenda.
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By Anna Arvidsson
Head of Bonnier News Brand Studio
Sweden
Connect


Berlin hits me every time.
I’m rollin’ down Torstrasse towards Native Advertising DAYS 2017 and the cab driver stumbles over Mapei’s ”Change” on the radio: “Even in your darkest night. I know, I know, a change is gonna come.”

Of course, I knew.
This would be days to remember. Days that would change me forever.

Two days of inspiration, meeting wonderful colleagues in the industry, sharing learnings from the past and thoughts about the future… I believe this year’s Native Advertising Days was more important than ever, now that the content business is growing and customers begin to understand the benefits of native over traditional display advertising.

I also had the honour of attending the prize ceremony and putting our tiny country – Sweden – on the map by winning bronze in the monster category: ”Agency of the Year (with over 20 employees)”; it was truly mind-blowing. But that was just one highlight of many.

All you need is a story that engages the ones you want to engage – less can be more.

Inspiration to take home

Hannah Meium, Content Director at DBB in New York, spoke about how advertising agencies and content co-operation must go hand in hand. Nobody wins, by just thinking of gold eggs, on their own.

Or Pete Fergusson, CEO of Nemorin Creative Film & Video, who proved that good content doesn’t need to be limited by time, platform or distribution. All you need is a story that engages the ones you want to engage – less can be more.

Eric Fulwiler, Executive Director at Gary Vaynerchuk’s VaynerMedia, told us their inspiring motto: ”We day trade under-priced attention – where are consumers attention shifting?” and showed us some very smart ad-campaigns on Snapchat.

RELATED: 10 Top Tips for Native Advertising Success from Native Advertising DAYS 2017

LinkedIn’s Global Content Marketing Leader, Jason A Miller opened our eyes to “the power of slowing down”, a strategy that has been proven successful on LinkedIn. Brandon Keenen, Senior Digital Commercial Director at CNN International Commercial, rounded it all up with an impressive talk in which he highlighted the power of video and showed us their beautiful creation, Great Big Story.

Half the experience with two days of inspiration is that I can’t wait to get home to my crew and in turn inspire them to shape the future. Making sure we do everything we need to do to become the best Brand Studio in the world.

How do you persuade an editor-in-chief to tear down the invisible wall? Where do you draw the line between ”editorial” and ”commercial”?

To know you’re on the right course

The other half of the experience is when you actually get acknowledgement of us being on the right course.

When Björn Madsen rounded off with a talk about how we must create new revenue streams and showed a slide on how he believed ”the Newsroom” and ”the Sales Team” must collaborate, a whispering spread throughout the audience.

RELATED: Why the Experts Believe Editorial Resources Are Crucial in Native Advertising

Is that even possible? Where do you start? How do you persuade an editor-in-chief to tear down the invisible wall? Where do you draw the line between ”editorial” and ”commercial”? Can we even sit on the same floor? What will the outcome be for our customers and readers?

Well, let me tell you something. I know it’s possible. And not only that: I know how to do it – and I know that it works, VERY WELL, because we are doing it.

I’m sure we’ve all seen countless of PowerPoint slides about the importance of tearing down the wall between salespeople and the editorial staff. Well. We did it. For real. And let me tell you, it works even better than expected.

Having a place at the news desk

Since the beginning of October Bonnier News Brand Studio has its own place at the news desk of the second biggest newspaper in Sweden: Expressen. This is a huge deal, not only for Expressen’s advertisers that will be at the very epicentre of events. This also means that a big part of the Swedish population is about to get even more relevant and updated commercial content.

Bonnier News Brand Studio is the innovation and concept department of Expressen, Dagens Nyheter, Dagens Industri, Helsingborgs Dagblad and Sydsvenskan – five of the biggest newspapers in Sweden.

Our basic idea is creating a one-stop shop for the advertisers: Production with guaranteed distribution. What truly sets Brand Studio apart from other agencies is our close co-operation with the editorial staff. Our customers business and marketing campaigns are combined with data and insights from our publishing culture, structure and storytelling DNA.

RELATED: Swedish Award Winning Brand Studio: It’s All About True Native

I’m sure we’ve all seen countless of PowerPoint slides about the importance of tearing down the wall between salespeople and the editorial staff. Well. We did it. For real. And let me tell you, it works even better than expected. By integrating Brand Studio with Expressen’s news desk we are really taking brand management to the next level.

Thomas Mattsson, Editor in Chief at Expressen, recently explained the move from his point of view. ”

Native is about proximity to the publicist, obviously with clear ad labelling. Analysis and insights have been shared between departments since we started Brand Studio. Moving to the news desk is a natural next step.”

Since the integration at the news desk, we’ve had native articles that have been some of the most read articles on the whole site.

Commercial editors up to speed with the news cycle

The mission for Brand Studio’s editors is to navigate the news feed in real-time, with the purpose of applying the information and know-how from the news desk to our commercial products, such as native articles and branded TV shows. We know that many of our customers want us to act in real time as the news are happening.

To achieve this, our staff attend all of Expressen’s news meetings to learn the day’s news agenda. What stories are being planned, how many articles will run and at what times. We also have access to the same real-time audience data the news desk uses. Our goal is to ensure that our commercial editors are up to speed with the news cycle and their clients’ place within it.

Since the integration at the news desk, we’ve had native articles that have been some of the most read articles on the whole site. We knew that we would see progress. But not as fast, and not with such great impact.

RELATED: Boston Globe Media’s Brand Studio Works Like a Mini-Newsroom

In an interview with DigiDay, I talk about an example that I think we will see more of in the future. Some weeks ago, one of Sweden’s most prominent entertainers criticized PostNord in an article on Expressen.

PostNord is one of our biggest clients, so we responded very fast by creating a native ad where PostNord’s communications manager apologized to the unhappy customers but also stressed that Schulman never had any problems with its service. The native article crushed our KPI:s in both reach and time spent.

Even though we still have a strict dividing line between editorial and commercial, this is a unique initiative, which we hope will – and it really should – make a lasting impression on the market.

Some will say that moving an commercial content manager to the newsroom is offensive. But it’s more offensive how the display market revenue model is built. Click-bait headlines drive page views that create inventory. Native creates engagement and ads value to our readers. We’re in it for the long run.

DOWNLOAD: Native Advertising Trends 2017 – The News Media Industry

 

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