Forget banners, pre-rolls or
anything that looks like “advertising.” Brands want ownership of “editorial” content -- and with big bucks at stake, publishers are playing along.
Take the new native ad pact between AOL and brewing giant MillerCoors, which is worth about $5 million, according to industry sources. Per AOL’s deal with Miller, audience
data will be fielded from both social media channels and proprietary data from AOL Advertising, said Erika Nardini, AOL Advertising’s CMO.
For the effort, AOL has agreed to
produce about 350 pieces of original content -- including 100 videos -- before the end of the year. At Miller’s request, each piece will appeal to male millennials, and plug Miller Lite, Coors
Lite, Blue Moon, or Redd’s Apple Ale.
The editorial content series, officially dubbed the “Brew Pub Newsroom,” will span AOL properties including Huffington Post,
Huff Post Live and the male-focused Mandatory.com.
Among other integrations, Miller Lite is sponsoring a segment on HuffPost Live titled “Huff Bros Live,” which will
feature millennial men and their thoughts on dating, sports and pop culture.
The buy is part of a broader strategy by MillerCoors to own publisher content. “Miller is very much
interested in content marketing,” Nardini said on Monday. “Native [advertising] is at the core of it.”
MillerCoors is hardly the only brand testing publishers’
willingness to blur those lines that have traditionally separated editorial and advertising. Ford, for one, just committed a reported $10 million to sponsor a video series, “This Built
America,” which is being produced by AOL and documents the renewal of domestic manufacturing.
Alex Linde, senior vice president of monetization for The Weather Co., recently
explained brands’ preference for native integrations during a conversation with Social Media & Marketing Daily
. As he put it, brands “don’t want to be stuck in a banner
ghetto.” As a result, Weather Co. only plans to release native ad units this year, Linde said.
More broadly, J.P. Morgan recently predicted that native formats would take over digital
channels, this year.