The changing shape of native advertising

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Hosted by The Guardian
By Caroline Faucher, contributor. 27 January, 2017
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Less than two years after launching its publisher branded content arm, The Guardian has created a new way for advertisers to tap into the newspaper website’s native traffic. Just as its name suggests, ‘Hosted by the Guardian’ is the new home for commercial content paid for and supplied by advertisers.

What exactly is Hosted By?

The platform represents a new stream of revenue for The Guardian which, like most other news outlets, relies heavily on advertising to provide editorial content.

Unlike Guardian Labs or Made by Fairfax, where branded content is created by the publisher’s content specialists, Hosted By gives advertisers the opportunity to showcase their own articles and videos.

The multinational automobile manufacturer Renault was one of the first to use the service in its beta mode. According to The Guardian, results from Renault’s Hosted By videos delivered a 60% view-through rate from over 25,000 unique visitors, with a further 4% clicking through to the Renault website.

Closer to home, book retailer Dymocks trialled the new platform during the 2016 Christmas period. Their Get Lost in a Book This Summer campaign featured summer reads accompanied by direct links to the books for sale on their online store.

How can the finance sector best use the platform?

Put simply, Hosted By is another way to reach potential customers. The Guardian is the third largest English speaking newspaper website, and more than 2.3 million unique users visit their Money section each month. This indicates brands using the platform have the potential to reach a wide audience who already trusts and engages with the content produced by the publisher.

Once published, the new content is also searchable on The Guardian website, which can in turn help with SEO efforts. Another advantage is brands become the storyteller. By having full control of the content, it can be easier for brands to align messages to marketing strategies. This type of platform could also be interesting for brands that already have a relationship with a content marketing agency or produce compelling content in-house and only wish to explore a new distribution channel.

The blurry line between editorial and advertising

Native advertising has been criticised by many, and there are calls for better and stricter guidelines to avoid confusion for readers. To adapt, The Guardian recently changed their terminology to clearly label this type of funded content. For instance, the use of ‘supported by’ has been adopted to indicate that the content has been funded, and that it remains editorially independent. In the same vein, content produced by Guardian Labs is now labelled ‘Paid Content or Paid for By, while content produced by advertisers for Hosted By the Guardian is clearly labelled Advertiser Content. Both paid content and advertiser content are subject to regulation by the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau.

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Caroline is a Canadian-Australian writer and online communication strategist with over 10 years experience in media, not-for-profits and government. Now based in the seaside city of Newcastle, she enjoys the variety of topics a freelance life offers and the challenge of turning complex ideas into simple messages.