Samsung teaches America about the
selfie. Samsung bought more than five minutes of
commercial time during the Oscars broadcast, but it was a selfie
and a tweet that sparked a frenzy of attention. The company gave
Academy Awards host Ellen DeGeneres a white Samsung Galaxy Note 3,
which she used to
snap a picture of herself and a host of celebs. The subsequent
tweet racked up more than 3 million retweets in two days.
The Wall Street Journal jumps into the native-ad
game. The Journal's push into native advertising might
seem like an also-ran after the Times if it weren't for the paper's
Editor-In-Chief Gerard Baker calling the practice a "Faustian pact"
-- that's a deal with the devil -- less than six months earlier. On
the eve of the Journal introducing native ads to its website,
Mr. Baker told Ad Age, "I am confident that our readers will
appreciate what is sponsor-generated content and what is content
from our global news staff."
Wired and Netflix impress with splashy native
ad. The Times was praised in June for its native ad about
women's prisons for the Netflix series "Orange is the New Black,"
but Wired magazine actually beat the Times to this high-water mark
of native-ad quality when the Conde Nast title
published an article on its website about the future of TV. The
article was from Netflix and would help set off a cascade of
snazzy-looking native ads from other brands and publishers.
Content marketing comes up empty at Cannes.
Eleven campaigns earned Gold Lions in the three-year-old
branded-content category at Cannes this year, but none of them took
home a Grand Prix. It was the first time since 1995 that no top
honor was awarded in a category at Cannes. Several months later,
Ad Age asked why.
Business-to-business marketers struggle to prove ROI of
content marketing. A study released in July threw a little
cold water on the content-marketing hype. Just over half -- 51% --
told researchers from Forrester that their content-marketing
efforts are only somewhat effective.
John Oliver skewers native advertising. When it
seemed the only people who cared about native ads were marketers
and media executives, comedian John Oliver dedicated 11 minutes of
his half-hour HBO show "Last Week Tonight" to lampooning the
practice. (The video now has more than 3 million views on YouTube.)
Execs from Time Inc. and The New York Times are among those Mr.
Oliver calls out.
BuzzFeed raises $50 million. The website with a
business model based almost entirely on native-advertising
got a $50 million investment from prominent venture-capital
firm Andreesen Horowitz. That values the company at roughly $850
million. Also in August, BuzzFeed named a new president, Greg
told Ad Age about his visions of combining native ads with
programmatic ad-selling technology.
Kraft gets boffo ROI on
content. Julie Fleischer, Kraft's director of data,
content and media,
said at this year's Content Marketing World conference that the
company now generates the equivalent of 1.1 billion ad impressions
a year and a four-times-better return-on-investment through content
marketing than through even targeted advertising.
Native ads goose quarterly earnings. Thanks to
brands' interest in content marketing,
third-quarter earnings reports showed that the practice of
making ads look like non-commercial content was driving revenue
gains at a variety of media companies, from The New York Times to
LinkedIn. The Times, for instance, reported a 16.5% increase in
digital-ad revenue during the third quarter compared with the same
time last year. And LinkedIn saw third-quarter ad revenue of $109
million, a 45% increase over the previous year.
Verizon's content marketing
experiment ends abruptly -- and with a black eye. In
December, Verizon Wireless
shuttered its content marketing site SugarString just two
months after the site's introduction. The closure came after the
site's editor reportedly told aspiring writers that coverage of net
neutrality and espionage were not allowed on the site. Verizon
denied the claim, but the damage was done and the site dead.