Reuters’ distributed approach to native advertising

All publishers are trying to crack the nut of native advertising at scale. Some are running such ads on other sites in their own portfolios, extending advertisers’ campaigns on social media or pushing them through programmatic platforms.

Reuters has a 160-year-old tradition as a news agency serving publishers, but now with its Content Solutions division, it’s extending that reach to help marketers reach a worldwide audience. In addition to, marketers can distribute their branded content across Reuters’ publishing platform, Media Express, with its 750 broadcaster and 1,000 newspaper clients. Reuters last week announced it would give away some of its content to publishers in an effort to grow its customer base. If it works, advertisers will have access to a bigger audience.

Reuters has been doing custom work for advertisers for a couple of years, including one year under the Content Solutions banner, but it hasn’t talked in detail about the unit before. It’s a 70-person team that reports up to Steven Schwartz, global managing director of the news agency and has offices in New York, London, Delhi, Seoul, Hong Kong and Tokyo. They produced more than 30 campaigns in the past 12 months, for such clients as All Nippon Airways (shown in main image) and the Indexed Annuities Leadership Council. Campaigns have in size from two-day affairs all the way up to ones that can run a year or more and cost up to the seven figures. A separate part of the group provides white-label editorial content to Reuters’ news clients.

“It was an opportunity to do what we had been doing and evolve that into a new channel, for brands,” said Daniel Mandell, managing director of Content Solutions. “Given our global footprint, infrastructure, DNA and talent, we have a lot to bring to bear for brands.”

Reuters maintains a strict separation between branded content and the newsroom. The Content Solutions group, in addition to its own staff, draws from freelance journalists including Barbara Fairchild, the former editor of Bon Appétit; and Rich Beattie, the former executive digital editor for Travel + Leisure, to name two.

Part of Reuters’ Carry On campaign for All Nippon Airways


Reuters’ challenge, like all publishers, is getting scale as advertising, like editorial content, increasingly relies on others’ platforms for distribution. By getting into the native advertising business, Reuters, as a distributor, is furthering that trend, said Steve Rubel, chief content strategist at Edelman. Reuters could be well positioned to take advantage of marketers’ demand for scale if it can use its content giveaway to bolster its distribution of native ads, he added.

“If there’s a way to incentivize more publishers to take that or take sponsored content as part of it, or it becomes a delivery mechanism for sponsored content, they become like the water company for sponsored content,” Rubel said.

One drawback facing Reuters is that as a wire service, it doesn’t have a longstanding reputation with advertisers to build on. But it can compensate on the quality side, said one agency head, who asked to remain anonymous. “They don’t have the greatest reputation for being the most creative with advertising, but think of the access the name gives you to stories. So they should be able to do fantastic content for brands.”

That difference is underscored in another way that Reuters Content Solutions differs from most publishers. Most shun the word “advertising” in labeling native ads on their sites for ones with less negative (but more confusing) connotation, like “brought to you buy” or “sponsored content.” Not Reuters; its branded content campaigns are prominently labeled “Special Advertising Feature.” A drop-down box explains that the campaign content is produced independently of the news side.

Photo courtesy of Reuters.

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