“Parts of our business actually mimic an ad exchange, except we are a content exchange,” says Shafqat Islam, CEO and co-founder. NewsCred licenses content from suppliers like CNN and The Economist. Brands (including Pepsi, GE Capital and Toyota) and publishers buy content from it, allowing the company to, in real-time, find and price content and enable it to flow through its platform. NewsCred tracks the economics of content as it moves through the platform. “Will we actually be a real-time exchange for content?” asks Islam. “I don’t know, but it’s certainly something we are keeping an eye on. As a category leader in content marketing, we need to figure out how to help our customers scale.”
Everybody Wants to Be a Publisher
Today every brand wants to be a publisher. Some brands do this well but, as Islam points out, not every brand has the bandwidth. “While publishing great content is the best way to engage an audience, executing on that idea is difficult.” After all, creating and publishing content several times a day is time and labor-intensive -- an industry unto itself. “Many brands want to set up a newsroom and engage in real-time marketing, as Oreo did during the Super Bowl,” he observes. Of course, now we’re all aware of Oreo’s top-secret “war-room” strategy: that “dunk in the dark” tweet was years in the making.
Whatever the backstory there, NewsCred is seeing interest from advertisers seeking to take advantage of real-time, content-driven opportunities -- as well as from publishers, who recognize the tremendous opportunity content marketing offers them. Since brands are seeking those solutions, “we are seeing savvy publishers double-down on both technology and staff to serve this audience,” says Islam. “In the last six months, the number of publishers building custom studios and content groups has exploded.”
Scaling Real-Time Content
Islam sees some challenges to the current state of native advertising. For advertisers, it comes down to scale. “Whether they are placing a sponsored post on LinkedIn or buying native on a premium site, one of the biggest challenges we have seen is, how do you get scale? And how do you make it repeatable?” There’s a tremendous amount of time and effort involved in creating native ads, and they’re often restricted to a specific medium, platform or publisher. A listicle created for BuzzFeed can’t be run on The Atlantic. “This is why there will always be a place for standard display units for brand campaigns: nothing else approaches the scale of RTB or programmatic,” Islam says.
For publishers, many of the challenges can be met with technology. Today, many publishers are creating custom, sponsored sections or microsites. For example, a car company might sponsor a piece that focuses on the outdoors. That sponsored content section could be made repeatable and scalable with technology. “Unfortunately, a lot of publishers are constrained by legacy CMS systems,” says Islam. “More scalable content marketing sections require CMSthat are more tuned to agile publishing to be able to quickly spin up, let’s say, a custom section about personal finance for [a bank] one day… and then allergy content another day for [an allergy drug]. Publishers need the ability to quickly create these sections that may use the same underlying infrastructure, but look and feel different.”
This problem also demands technology to find and curate content. Many publishers have so much quality content across their networks they don’t need to create it from scratch for every native or content marketing campaign they sell. They simply need to be able to find the most appropriate content for the right user at the right time.
With the right technology and with innovators like NewsCred’s Islam leading the pack, real-time content marketing can scale. We can get to that nirvana of the right content to the right person at the right time -- at scale, and at the right price. Content is king, distribution is queen and technology is aces, and NewsCred will help advertisers, publishers and consumers ensure they have a full house.