Pitching, selling and branding the news: Why we need to rethink native advertising / Vendre l’information : pourquoi nous avons besoin de repenser la publicité native

Speaker: Ava Sirrah, Ph. D. candidate at Columbia Journalism School and former strategist for the New York Times / Intervenante: Ava Sirrah, doctorante à l’Ecole de journalisme de Columbia et ancienne responsable de la stratégie pour le New York Times (@avasirrah)

What’s the place of native advertising in modern newsrooms?

This increasingly-prevalent form of content placement—employed by everyone from The New York Times to The Atlantichas befuddled newsrooms looking to manage revenue streams and, at the same time, maintain journalistic integrity. Now, academics are beginning to study the phenomenon, as well.

Ava Sirrah has studied this topic in-depth. Native advertising, she said, is important because « it informs the way that we look at the world. » She shared a number of takeaways:

  • Native advertising has a cost. The line between news and advertising is becoming increasingly blurred. Newsrooms must balance the desire to tell an advertising story in a way that looks like news, while at the same time ensuring that native advertising is clearly labeled and delineated as such.
  • Readers believe strongly in native advertising even when they know they are not reading the news. A study by Sarah McGrew at Stanford University found that readers believe 70 percent of information in sponsored ads. There’s also a tension here. Newsrooms want « ads that are written in our voice, » according to Sirrah, while native advertisers say that what they want out of content is creativity.
  • Native advertising is affecting the journalism job market. Jobs in native advertising and public relations are generally higher-paid than traditional journalism jobs, and there are more jobs in these fields. This can lead to a challenging decision for young journalists.

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