Originally published in AW360

With protest movements, a pandemic, and privacy regulations like CCPA kicking into effect – there’s never been a more urgent time to invest in (and defend) brand marketing. But marketers can move forward with meaningful, authentic measures and messages, delivered in the right way, and reap dividends immediately and potentially for many years to come.

Consumers are hyper-aware of how brands are positioning themselves (as well as noting their silence) amidst the current climate. Even business-forward brands are being held accountable by customers. Privacy regulations are forcing a course correction on many programmatic strategies, but tough economic circumstances mean every penny of marketing spend is being challenged, reduced, or eliminated – especially if it’s hard to attribute to a specific KPI. So how can marketers justify and defend the budget for brand-building?

Solution: find the right balance of brand and performance. Take those brand-building assets:  white papers, infographics, or e-books, and amplify them with native, contextual performance-based strategies. You’ll ensure your message and content appear in precisely the right context, in a quality environment and distributed at scale. Native campaigns can be a way to precisely deploy high-quality brand assets, distributed in the right environments.

As digital advertising moves beyond cookies and third-party data, native campaigns are the way to combine 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 the COVID-19 era.

“As digital advertising moves beyond cookies and third-party data, native campaigns are the way to combine quality control, audience targeting and context that aren’t possible by relying solely on programmatic.”

The right context is key

The pandemic’s onset threw the world into an anything-but-business as a usual quagmire. The knee-jerk reaction for brands and advertisers was to quickly pull ads to avoid placements next to coronavirus-related content, leaving media publications hurting from ad revenue loss just as media consumption was at a high point. This was a huge missed opportunity for brands.

Rather than pulling ads altogether, smart brands pivoted to campaigns that would allow them to align creative to hit the right contextual note: some financial brands, for example, offered timely advice on shifting investment strategies to account for volatility.

Others, like location data company Unacast, provided pro-bono data to reinforce the importance of social distancing as a critical measure in fighting COVID-19. Brand loyalty is on the line across the industry – as we’re now seeing with the Stop Hate For Profit campaign against Facebook. Identifying the right content is the key first step, followed by the context in which it is delivered.

“The knee-jerk reaction for brands and advertisers was to quickly pull ads to avoid placements next to coronavirus-related content, leaving media publications hurting from ad revenue loss just as media consumption was at a high point.”

Performance and brand: not one versus the other

Regardless of the current climate’s dynamics, marketers are still under pressure to deliver immediate ROI. But without the right messaging, context, or format, performance-based tactics won’t provide any measurable value. Now is the time to reassess KPIs, marketing tactics and toolkit and consider adding different delivery methods and yardsticks, adding cost-per-click options to CPM based campaigns. Programmatic remains a foundational strategy to effectively target consumers. But with consumers paying closer attention to the posture, position and behavior behind a brand message, marketers need to prioritize methods that grant them more control. Native or sponsored content can be a smart supplement or option to automated tactics to ensure brand messages are hitting home in a safe, premium environment.

As early signs begin to point to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s carpe diem time for brands and advertisers to lean in — now — for success moving forward. Having a strong brand message and presence is not only critical to maintaining customer loyalty during this time but will also influence customer acquisition and retention. Leveraging the right performance-based tactics to catapult topical, engaging and authentic native content, in a premium context 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.

Q&A with What’s New In Publishing: Dianomi, the native ad marketplace for professional services brands and B2B publishers

By WNIP2 days ago

Last modified on July 16th, 2020

Based in London, New York and Sydney, Dianomi is the native ad platform for the financial services, tech and corporate sectors, providing advertisers with access to a global audience of 200 million consumers. Despite volatility in ad spend during the pandemic, one exception has been a steady growth in financial brands spending on native advertising in premium outlets. WNIP caught up with Rupert Hodson, Co-Founder & CEO, Dianomi, to find out more…

What business problem is your company addressing?

Dianomi works with trusted publishers to monetize content through premium sponsored posts. While native advertising has received its share of criticism, with some people referring to it as ‘clickbait’, we approach sponsored content differently. Our focus from day one has been helping premium brands deliver native advertisements that people want to see in publications people want to read, honing in on the right audience and context.

We bridge the gap between advertiser and publisher, integrating advertising content with premium publication context, which ensures that no ads are served that aren’t relevant to a publication or reader.

Through our tech, every element of the communications mix is holistically optimised – audiences, advertising content, advertisement position, publication type, publication quality, delivery timing and delivery device work together.

What is your core product addressing this problem?

We’ve always prioritized premium campaign experiences and the best way to deliver that we believe is through native advertising with trusted partners on professionally curated content. Our cost-per-click model operates with complete transparency, scalability and all within a brand-safe environment.

Our marketplace connects 600 blue-chip financial brands — Prudential, Morgan Stanley, Chase and others — to a global audience of financially engaged consumers via 300+ of the world’s best-known business and finance publishers. Media properties for whom we drive revenue include The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Kiplinger and MSN. 

In terms of contextual targeting, we’ve identified 12 contextual audiences relevant for our advertising partners that allow for page-level targeting on our publishers’ sites. This level of granularity ensures advertisers are reaching the right audience without the reliance on third-party data, and at scale.

Can you give some examples of publishers successfully using your solution?

Aside from the publishers mentioned earlier, our roster includes Business Insider, VOX, Recode, Bloomberg, Fortune, and other premium business and financial publications.


Dianomi works on a cost per click (CPC) model, or cost per view for video advertisements.

What are other people doing in the space and why?

Because our marketplace is niche, with premium advertisers and publishers, we guarantee brand safety as well as ensure the content is shared with readers in a contextually relevant environment.

While there are others in the native advertising and contextual spaces, none have the reach or access to premium business and financial content in our vertical.

How do you view the future?

Over the years, through programmatic advertising, the ad ecosystem has moved from a targeting landscape that relied and worked on contextual relevance to one where advertisers were chasing audiences over the web through the use of third-party cookies. This led to major brand safety issues and fraud.

With CCPA now fully enforced and prominent, plus Google’s move to remove third-party cookies and playing catch up with Apple’s focus on data privacy, we are seeing a return to the simplicity and relevance of ad targeting based on context and focused on premium professionally curated content. Marketing does not have to be uber complicated to succeed. Quite the opposite.

Thank you.