Native advertising and branded content have rapidly become developed disciplines in North America. They're not mature by any stretch of the imagination, but are not nascent either.
However, native remains rather new in other parts of the world.
Hanza Media, an independent multimedia publisher based in Croatia, owns five daily newspapers and nearly 40 general interest print and digital magazines that attract readers throughout southeast Europe. Its publications reach 1.2 million digital readers, and 1.5 million readers of both print and digital media.
Native Insider spoke with Ana Plisic, editorial director of Hanza Media’s Native Ad Studio, about her company’s efforts.
Native Insider: How would you characterize native advertising in the part of the world your company serves?
Ana Plisic: I would say it’s up and coming in Croatia. We opened our native ad studio two years ago. After that, other publishers entered the market. It’s not strongly developed here, but the brands are becoming more and more aware of the need for new forms of communication.
Our goal is to offer our readers a more uninterrupted experience. We want to offer our advertisers more effective advertising. As a publisher, we’re recognized for our premium content and high quality journalism. The studio is dealing with multinational brands like Qatar Airways, MasterCard, pharmaceutical and telecom brands. The campaigns we create are custom. We have experts within each industry who work on different campaigns.
NI: What are your native advertising goals?
Plisic: The bottom line is that we need to engage with consumers and brands in a meaningful way. The [qualities] we keep in mind when we create campaigns are: One, native advertising has to bring something new and useful to consumers. Two, it has to inspire them. Three, it has to engage. Most important, will people share it with friends and talk about it with their network? Peer-to-peer recommendations are the most valuable form of recommendation today.
NI: What's your take on native advertising performance and metrics?
Plisic: I would say engagement is the most important metric. By that, I mean the numbers of likes, shares, and recommendations. Does the native content get people talking about the product, and how much of my personal time have I spent interacting with the brand? How much attention time does the content attract? Attention time is the average time spent within the native ad content and engagement.
The average attention time with our editorial content is two minutes. With native, on average, we’ve found it’s anywhere from one minute 40 seconds, to three minutes 40 seconds.
Advertisers expect reach: how many unique visitors came to the content, what’s the ROI, and impact on sales. Native tries to deepen the relationship with the consumer. We don’t mention products or companies in our campaigns except in some circumstances. We want to be completely honest and transparent to readers.
NI: What are some of your more interesting campaigns?
Plisic:Our Native Ad Studio did a Real-Time Influenza Tracking campaign for a pharmaceutical company in collaboration with the N.Y-based startup BioDigital. It consisted of print and display ads which were part of a native campaign combined with traditional advertising (print, display, and promotion). The product it was promoting in the native campaign was No. 2 in its market segment in the real-time tracking, and this year, it became No. 1.
So the product grew 3.5x faster than the overall market. Previously, the advertiser had run only TV ads. Because its main competitor launched a new product on TV, our client wanted to take a different approach.
For a Croatian telecom company, we created an ongoing campaign around ransomware in in light of recent cyber attacks. The company wanted to raise awareness about information security and what ransomware is. The campaign offered personalized information from experts to focus on protection.
A Sex & Lifehacks campaign offered a talk-to-the-doctor feature and personal confessions to help people to take care of themselves.
NI: What do you think advertisers want in native?
Plisic: Video is becoming really important, and we are trying to implement technology as much as we can. Many of our campaigns have interactive maps, web applications, and web platforms. We plan to use VR [virtual reality] and will partner with an AR [augmented reality] startup in Croatia.
Advertisers want innovative campaigns. They expect something different, relevant, and impactful.
Creating quality campaigns is a challenge. The quality in design, interface, and advertising matters. You have to keep the quality high. Almost all of our campaigns are custom-created.