Originally posted on MarketingProfs.

By Rachel Tuffney, EVP of US Operations, Dianomi

There’s never been a better time to understand the value of brand marketing. In 2021, people are hyper-aware of how brands are positioning themselves (as well as noting their silence) after the roller coaster of a year that was 2020. Moreover, the regulatory climate is compelling many marketers to find alternatives to third-party data and cookie-driven performance marketing.

At the same time, amid financial uncertainty, marketing leaders must defend every penny of marketing spend as CEOs and CFOs look for direct links between marketing spend and specific KPIs or business outcomes.

Yet, although marketers know it’s hard to measure their brand-building efforts, they also know it is that brand building via brand marketing drives loyalty and it can also lead to new consideration and intent that eventually increases demand.

So, how can marketers justify and defend budget for brand-building?

One concrete answer is to integrate brand marketing activity within a performance-driven campaign. In 2021, winning strategies will calibrate brand with performance execution. The secret weapon is contextual, or native, advertising.

Contextual strategies enable marketers to take brand-building assets and amplify them using performance-based strategies. That approach ensures that a brand’s message and content appear in precisely the right context, including the right environment, and that they are distributed efficiently at scale.

The combination can be an exponentially powerful brand builder.

Brand Marketing Within a Contextual Strategy

One approach is to deploy high-quality brand assets—whitepapers, infographics, e-books, or explainer videos—as part of a native content campaign. A contextual strategy allows for distribution of in-depth content—for example, service-oriented educational pieces from a financial services brand aimed at a first-time life insurance buyer—to the right audience (let’s say males age 40+) in the right environments (in business publications).

Most important, instead of using a standard cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) KPI, marketers can measure branded content via a cost-per-click metric in native. That’s a double win: Brand-building creative is delivered via targeted and measurable contextual platforms (wherein the brand pays only for the delivery that sparks a consumer engagement).

As privacy regulations go into effect and upcoming algorithm changes from big tech platforms force brands to rethink their reliance on legacy cookie-based targeting strategies, companies would do well to weave native content into the mix. People are hyper-aware of a company’s voice and reputation. They can quickly differentiate between meaningful and performative social responsibility initiatives, and that’s just as true for business-forward companies as it is for consumer-facing brands.

Contextual distribution strategies with a cost-per-click goal enable businesses to combine levels of quality control, audience targeting, and context that aren’t possible by relying solely on programmatic.

The combination of brand and performance can be an exponentially powerful brand builder—especially as a means to market effectively in an era when we’re still not back to a world of in-person events or business lunches.

Opting for the Right Context

The onset of the pandemic threw the world into anything-but-business-as-usual conditions. Companies and advertisers were quick to pull ads to avoid placements next to COVID-related content, leaving media publications hurting from ad revenue loss just as media consumption was at a high point.

The winners were the brands that didn’t pump the breaks on their marketing, but instead pivoted their creative to hit the right contextual note. Some financial companies, for example, offered timely advice on shifting investment strategies to account for volatility. Other companies, such as location data company Unacast, provided pro-bono data to reinforce the importance of social distancing as an essential measure in fighting COVID-19.

If we learned anything from the Stop Hate For Profit campaign against Facebook last summer, it’s that brand loyalty is on the line across the industry.

In short: identifying the right content is the first major step, followed by the context in which it is delivered.

Synergy of Performance and Brand Marketing

Despite the dynamics of the current climate, marketers are expected to deliver immediate ROI. Now is the time to reassess KPIs, marketing tactics, and creative toolkits, and to consider adding different delivery methods and measurement, such as cost-per-click options, to CPM-based campaigns.

Customers are paying close attention to the behavior, posture, position and positioning behind a brand message, and marketers need to prioritize methods that grant customers more control. Contextual or sponsored content can be a smart supplement or alternative to automated tactics to ensure brand messages are pulling through in a safe, premium environment.

As society struggles with COVID-19 and vaccines that signal light at the end of the tunnel, a strong brand message and presence are critical for companies to maintain customer loyalty. Service-oriented and authentic brand marketing can be important air cover that also influences customer acquisition and retention.

Using the right performance-based tactics to catapult pressing, engaging, and authentic native content in a premium, contextually relevant environment—and in front of the right audience at precisely their moment of interest—is a powerful way to augment campaign plans and deliver meaningful results.

Brian Batenburg is Programmatic Sales Manager at The Globe and Mail and oversees the media company’s direct response and performance strategy. He recently sat down with Dianomi to discuss the publisher’s native ad strategy, the importance of trust and how native can be used to complement existing content.

Tell us about The Globe and Mail.
The Globe and Mail is Canada’s leading media company, sparking national conversations and spurring policy changes through brave and independent journalism, a path we’ve followed since 1844. With our award-winning coverage of business, politics and national affairs, we reach 6.5 million readers every week through our print and digital formats, with Report on Business magazine reaching 1.6 million readers in print and digital every issue.

What is the mandate of the organization both in respect to your readers and advertisers and what is its vision for the future?
To inspire and inform Canadians through courageous, empathetic and objective journalism. We aim to be a customer-focused organization by putting the needs of our readers first. The Globe and Mail delivers a superior experience to our audience, based on responsible, sustainable business practices, and independent ownership.
This mentality is present throughout the organization, including the Revenue department: servicing our advertisers with responsible, sustainable business practices. We are accountable and transparent, which is increasingly important in today’s marketing climate. These practices also extend to our exclusive Canadian representation agreements with top-tier global brands as part of the Globe Alliance.

What is your role? What’s top of your mind day-to-day?
Titles aside, my role in the organization is to bring the best value we can to our advertisers based on their goals and objectives. This is done through a group of experts that make up a team called Globe Response. This specialty team focuses entirely on results-based marketing, using a combination of industry-leading tools and in-house technology and data to deliver highly efficient performance results. We focus on looking beyond an impression or click, for us it’s about understanding how our audience and platform can deliver on our client’s campaign objectives and KPIs.
Each day, our team looks to uncover insights and strategies that can help enhance and deliver solutions our audience is seeking, linking them with best practices and experiences. Working in a crowded marketplace, we are always thinking of ways to provide advertisers with effective, brand-safe solutions aligned to their business goals.

You recently partnered with Dianomi to roll out their units on The Globe and Mail’s site and to act as the sales representative for Dianomi in Canada. What excites you about native advertising and Dianomi?
Our Dianomi partnership brings a vast extended network to our leading suite of finance and business reach in Canada. The team has carefully curated relationships with publishers that have highly sought-after financial and business news and opinions consumed by Canadians in their everyday digital consumption. By placing native posts within these contextually relevant environments, Dianomi’s suite connects useful insights that supply value to our readers. Our readers, in turn, trust the Dianomi widget and see the content and offers that surface as valuable and relevant.
The Globe is excited to be the first Canadian publisher to onboard Dianomi. Given our focus and leadership in the business and finance category, it’s an effective tool in delivering client KPIs – both as a stand-alone solution or part of a larger integration or custom solution.

What is the importance of native advertising to The Globe and Mail?
The Globe and Mail has offered native advertising in various formats for some time. Our strategy of being transparent about Sponsor Content placements has served us well in creating trust with users while meeting the needs of our advertising partners. Adding Dianomi to the platform was a logical next step that allows us to take users to an advertiser’s site, transparently, through “Paid Post” messaging. Using a native platform on Globe properties allows an advertiser to experience a qualified audience as the ad content is specifically placed at the end or alongside articles. This native placement is a complement to the content, and allows readers to continue consuming what is most relevant to them. In-line with the Dianomi model, this feature focuses specifically on our business and investing pages to ensure high value to the user. Offering a native platform allows us to better share ideas around products, offerings, and services in an unobtrusive manner, with a format that users want to interact with at the right time.

How can publishers and brands strategically use native advertising? What can they expect from native (e.g. drive traffic new revenue stream, etc.)
Native is a great tool and can be put to work in several ways. It can leverage messaging to build awareness and familiarity with the audience, or it can be tactically implemented to drive an outcome. Overall it is an effective way to engage with potential customers using an informative approach.
At the Globe, we use native in 2 ways:

1. A full-service Sponsor Content experience (developed in partnership with advertisers and produced by our in-house Content Studio), and

2. Client-hosted content, contextually placed within our publishing environment and labelled as a Paid Post.
Dianomi is a great example of No. 2, especially where we have the ability to surface financial and business related offers, information, and content to an audience already contextually invested in this stream to provide further value. We have been able to help advertisers outside of traditional display with events, ticket sales, content promotion, and other unique offerings. The Dianomi platform allows for us to evaluate creative variations, make real-time optimizations with placements, and others – all feedback the advertiser can use to see best performance and optimize future opportunities. The Dianomi platform not only provides us with an alternate revenue stream, it adds to our ability to provide optimized product for our advertisers and an alternative for our readers to engage with content.

There seems to be a backlash against clickbait in content units at the moment.
Publishers’ Reputations, Not Just Money, At Stake in Content Suggestion Battle
“Publishers’ reputations, not just money, at stake in content suggestion battle” said Ryan Singel.
“The most notable expression of annoyance came from Marc Andreessen, the prominent venture capitalist, who also happens to have invested in digital publications such as Business Insider and PandoDaily. Any serious publishers “should be shot” for using related content links, he wrote, because they degrade the user experience and the advertiser experience. They are a “part of the ‘race to the bottom’ pervading Internet content,” he added, noting that the income they bring in is a short-term substitute for building a long-term quality business.
There’s no amount of money that justifies that crap appearing on our pages,” PandoDaily editorial director Paul Carr wrote. ”
Said Forbes
The Verge content marketing
“Sleazy tabloid links have taken over the web” said The Verge.

“You all know the links he’s talking about. You’re reading an article about Crimea and the site is suggesting you read an article about getting “bikini ready” next.  “

“You all know the links he’s talking about. You’re reading an article about Crimea and the site is suggesting that you read an article about getting “bikini ready” next.” Said EContent.
Medium Content Links
“Those F%#&!ng content links” Said Medium.

 “I’m not suggesting that it doesn’t generate cash or offer data, but it’s not the kind of linkbait that raises brand value”

“I’m not suggesting that it doesn’t generate cash or offer data, but it’s not the kind of linkbait that raises brand value.” Said Rob Mills @ Medium.
The Financial Times - relevance
“After reading the latest news on the probe into the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on CNN’s website, would you like to find out about “four ways to run faster, reach your goals and look great”? Asked The Financial Times.
Clickbait - Adexchanger
“It goes something like this: While scrolling through the latest coverage on Syria, or doing research on a work project, you reach the end of an article, only to be greeted with the latest tabloid news about Kim Kardashian. With its teasing photo and promise of outrageousness, it takes all your willpower to resist. ” Said AdExchanger.
Facebook click bait
Now Facebook has shown up many publishers by taking the lead, they said “80% of the time people preferred headlines that helped them decide if they wanted to read the full article before they had to click through” whilst announcing they would crackdown on click-bait.
At dianomi we believe that the context of content is important. For the user. For the brand of the publisher. And for the advertiser.
Read more about context, performance and ROI.

Reuters financial content
According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau one in five web users is now using “do not track” settings on their browsers. They expect this to rise to 50% over the next few years.
Mediacom said today “Over the last 12 months all major web browsers have implemented some form of ‘Do not track’ setting. The setting requests that websites do not use behavioural targeting for that specific user on that browser (although it is still up to the publisher to decided whether to honour that request). Numbers from the IAB are showing that already around 20% of users are enabling Do not track in their browsers, and they are expecting this to rise to 50% in the next few years.”
If advertisers cannot target a specific user then the context and relevance of an ad becomes key. For example, ad units showing financial advertising next to financial content.
dianomi run campaigns on a cost per lead or cost per click basis.