Will the Intersection of Editorial and Advertising Destroy Journalism?

|Juan Martinez



By contributing content to Forbes’s Advoice platform, NetApp is able to generate more than fifty thousand unique visitors each month to content that engages an executive audience in conversations that are favorable to NetApp, said Annalisa Camarillo (pictured left), Senior Manager of Executive Engagement Programs at NetApp.

Speaking at last night’s Content Conversations Event: Bridging Journalism & Advertising with Lewis D’Vorkin, Chief Product Officer of Forbes Media (pictured center) and Outbrain CEO Yaron Galai (pitctured right), Annalisa said Advoice allows her company to connect directly with the Forbes audience by creating and posting content on the Forbes digital publishing platform. NetApp, a fortune 500 company that provides storage and data management solutions globally, is one of 12 companies that contribute content to Forbes AdVoice, including Dell, Merrill-Lynch, Microsoft and SAP. Camarolli lauded the platform for giving NetApp an opportunity to engage in a dialogue with C-Level prospects on relevant and timely subjects.

“The reason we made this investment with Forbes is because we are able to leverage the credibility of the Forbes brand to accomplish one really important thing: We know that it’s important to have advocates at all levels of the companies we want to do business with and there’s no better way to reach that audience than to go where they are,” she explained. “Instead of taking them out of the environment they’re engaging in, we should go to them. We want to give them the information they’re after: authentic, broad, conversational-style content that a publisher like Forbes is used to doing.”

Lewis said Forbes is focused on serving three voices:  journalists, the social audience and the individual. However, he added, “A key player in the media business has always been the marketing community, but their content has always been placed in silos along the site. It’s very important for us to surface those four vital voices on our home page. Our organic platform enables these voices to be dynamically distributed throughout the site in relevant ways.”

“In digital, anybody who has an expert voice can find a way to publish and be heard,” Lewis asserted. “What we want to do is enable all those voices to get published and be heard in a credible news environment where you know the content being brought to you is a network of vetted, valuable voices.”

NetApp employs a stable of writers that are familiar with the company and its editorial philosophy. All content produced by NetApp is properly marked so that Forbes audience members don’t mistake it for content produced by one of Forbes’s approximately 1000 journalists.

“We watch the news that’s breaking on a regular basis and we give people things to think about, but we don’t necessarily talk about NetApp [in the articles],” Annalisa said. “This gives us a way to earn people’s respect, then to establish a relationship, then to take them to the next level of depth to describe to them what we do and why we should earn their business.”

Yaron asked Annalisa how NetApp measured its success on AdVoice.

“The world is used to search,” he said. “You have a keyword and it costs you 40 cents. If there’s a conversion and you made 41 cents, you’re golden. But how do you measure success with content marketing?”

Annalisa said NetApp examines how its content influences brand awareness by launching before-and-after surveys. She said NetApp also prioritizes engagement metrics to determine if content is accomplishing the company’s goals.

“Is the audience commenting, sharing, coming back, and what does referral traffic look like?” she said.

AnnaLisa has been pleased with the results, which are provided by Forbes in the form of analytics measurement reports.

“We receive 50K unique visitors on a monthly basis,” she said.

One of NetApp’s posts, “New iPhone 5 Reportedly Has 4G LTE For Globetrotting Apple BYOD-Fans,” was the most popular piece on on September 10, receiving eighty-thousand visits. The piece ran on the Forbes Most Popular module on every Forbes page that day.

Despite the positivity engendered by NetApp’s success story, Yaron asked a sobering question of the panelists: “When Forbes ultimately has 120 AdVoice partners and they start appearing all over the Most Popular module, does that mean editorial journalism goes away?”

Lewis and Annalisa both agreed that journalism likely wouldn’t be affected by platforms like AdVoice.

“We are now producing 500 posts a day,” Lewis said. “Our AdVoice partners produce maybe 10 posts per day. It’s a small fraction. The reality of our job is to produce great content and find solutions for our marketing partners. Sometimes the media business forgets that.”

Content Conversations is a community of content marketers and publishers concerned in the future of publishing, the intersection of content and advertising, content marketing and all things content. This monthly meetup is brought to you by Contently and Outbrain, and is a forum for information sharing and networking.

Images via Noam Galai.

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Juan Martinez

Juan is the Content Strategy Manager at Outbrain. He is responsible for determining the overall tone and editorial direction of... Read more

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