Advertising Technology

PureWow’s Ryan Harwood: ‘Biggest Asset or Missed Opportunity, You Decide’

Ryan_260x306This guest column was written by Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow, a free daily email and website for women, featuring culture, fashion, travel, and tech.

You’ve heard it again and again. And again.

Here it is, one more time for the back of the room: content is still king. It’s still the most valuable asset to a publisher or a marketer. It’s still what consumers want. And it will forever and always be what drives the media industry.

That’s great for publishers, right? Depends.

Content used to be the thing publishers held very close and charged a premium for. There’s certainly still room for that, but as we all know, that dynamic is changing. Anyone with a tumblr account is a content creator and digital publishers are flooded with requests for custom content that brands can use to engage with their audiences. What was a prized possession to a publisher has now been democratized. But that doesn’t mean the game is over, it’s just changing.

In order to continue to monetize that premium content, publishers need to adapt and innovate. Banner ads have major limits in terms of engagement. DSPs and programmatic buying are quickly becoming the default for brands looking for pure reach and eyeballs.  Soon enough, networks and publishers that are solely dependent upon display ads will suffer as DSPs take over the majority of standard inventory and the efficient pricing model wins out.

Still, premium digital publishers have an enormous opportunity to lend their voices, credibility, and resources to partners looking for superior content that is impactful and sharable in a way where everyone wins.

In my opinion, the key to this will come as a shock to probably no one and I apologize for using a term that has become quickly overused, but here it is: native ads.

Publishers should embrace the demand for content and work with brands on creative ways they can build campaigns that accomplish engagement (proven higher with native ads) and sharability (on social networks and brands’ own channels). As an example, PureWow produces advertorials that fit our readership and are written in our tone of voice. We often have additional original branded content to engage with further on our site and/or lend this content to be placed on our partners’ sites or social platforms. Relevant, effective, engaging.

PureWow has also been able to accomplish this with programs like custom recipe guides for CPG (food & beverage) brands or personal finance tips from financial institutions. Acting almost as a mini creative agency, we’ve used our resources to create content that our partners can distribute to our audience and syndicate through their own channels.

The bottom line is that with the way the industry is changing, a publisher’s biggest asset can also be its biggest downfall if they refuse to embrace change.  Sites that don’t allow for innovative content creation will ultimately be left in the dark.

  • Joe Byers

    It’s definitely better for brands to participate in digital advertising this way but is it scalable for the publisher? I think that’s the real question. Good article, well said.

  • Jamie Morelli

    Great article. Buzzfeed has gotten all the credit in this space but many other companies are doing a good job at producing ads that are native to their platform. Good to see another one get some credit.

  • Michael Zang

    I guess this is how digital competes with TV – can’t tell a story in a banner ad. So need to find another way…