The Globe and Mail soft launched a native advertising venture with General Electric Canada Wednesday. The 90-day program sees the newspaper integrate custom content from GE into its desktop and mobile websites.
Created by the Globe Edge custom content division within the Globe’s ad department, the articles will be comprised of text, video, graphics and other material that will esthetically integrate into the design and feel of the Globe’s editorial content. They will be distinguished from editorial, however, with light beige borders and “Sponsored Content” labels that make it clear to readers that it is GE advertising.
“While these ads enable brands and readers to connect in a unique way, they are also fully transparent to consumers with clear markers to identify this content as advertising,” said publisher Phillip Crawley in a statement.
“We’ve been in the content marketing game for a very long time,” says Andrew Saunders, chief revenue officer of The Globe and Mail. “What we’ve noticed in the past two years or so is that content-rich brands like General Electric Canada are inevitably looking for different ways to connect with an audience. Their aspirations are to become publishers, in a way. We want to help facilitate that. We can do that by building a unique platform in The Globe and Mail environment.”
Underpinning the project is the importance of fine-grained data measurement and optimization, says Saunders. The Globe will use the Polar MediaVoice native ads platform to measure efficacy in the same way that it measures editorial content units. The paper will be able to capture data on what is read, user location, time of day and other details that will be shared solely with the client, providing a dual benefit to both parties. The custom content will often be paired with GE display advertising, maximizing opportunities for click-through.
“If it’s great quality content and it’s highly relevant, we believe the reader will engage with that content,” says Saunders.
GE stories will be primarily focused on business and innovation, tying into the corporation’s history of invention-driven research. Articles will appear on the Report on Business (ROB), Technology and World section pages, among the related stories links on some ROB and World news article pages and in the video library.
That level of integration is what will make this pilot different from the Globe’s previous forays with sponsored content.
“A lot of people have said, ‘What’s the big difference? We’ve done content marketing in the past,’” says Saunders. “There’s been an improvement in the ad content itself. In terms of its form, that content unit matches the visual design and experience, the look and the feel [of editorial content]. Its dynamics are similar to how we will drive our journalism.”
The Globe will evaluate the program at the end of the 90-day period and determine whether to open it to other agencies and advertisers.