About Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb, digital advertising/media analyst at Altimeter Group, is globally recognized as an expert on digital marketing, advertising, publishing and media. An author, and sought-after speaker, she's the former vice president of Econsultancy's US operations. She was VP and editor-in-chief of The ClickZ Network for over seven years. For a portion of that time, Rebecca also ran Search Engine Watch. She consults on content strategy for a variety of brands and professional trade organizations. Earlier, Rebecca held executive marketing and communications positions at strategic e-services consultancies, including Siegel+Gale, and has worked in the same capacity for global entertainment and media companies including Universal Television & Networks Group (formerly USA Networks International) and Bertelsmann's RTL Television. As a journalist, she's written on media for numerous publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She spent five years as Variety's Berlin-based German/Eastern European bureau chief. Until recently, Rebecca taught at New York University's Center for Publishing, where she also served on the Electronic Publishing Advisory Group. Her book, The Truth About Search Engine Optimization, published by FT Press, instantly became a best-seller on Amazon.com. It remains a top-10 title in several Internet marketing categories. Content Marketing publishes in Fall, 2011.

Social Media’s Fade-Out (and Why That’s a Good Thing)

Wave goodbye to all those social media gurus. They’re about to head off into the sunset. And that’s a good thing.

By all indications, this is the year that social media will fade into the background. All those social media gurus and social media ninjas and social media experts’ volume level will no longer be perma-set at 11. It’s not that social media is going away. It’s just that it’s fading into the background. Which is a really good thing.

Social media is the new wallpaper, a highly predicable moment many of us have been waiting for. It’s an important and very distinct historical pattern.

Whenever a significant new digital channel develops, it inevitably begins its lifespan as a Bright Shiny Object. The turn of this century was all email, all the time.  Email marketing was the new new thing that dominated the digital marketing conversation for close to 10 years.

Then, oooh! Search! Paid search! SEO! Search engine conferences were the industry’s largest events. The one I was formerly involved with, the biggest one there was, recently rebranded twice: first as a “search and social media” conference, then as a “digital marketing” event.

See where this is going? Email and search now both enjoy wallpaper status. They’ve faded into the background. This is absolutely not meant to diminish the importance or significance of either as a marketing channel. Search and email still are significant, impactful and effective. “Wallpapering” is a sign of maturity and of essential integration into the larger marketing organization. Really, it’s what all those experts and gurus and pundits are fighting for.

Social media is now following search and email into the background. It’s finally mainstream, not a novelty (like having a website once was – remember?). Social media has been departmentalized, strategized, budgetized – all of which are very good things.

We’re seeing the industry shifts that corroborate this. It’s not just conferences that are rebranding and shifting their go to market strategies. Social media software vendors, SEOs, and email providers are all scrambling to reposition as content marketing purveyors. Their offerings are essentially the same as they were before, but this new positioning is more topical, and more broadly relevant.

Content marketing is the new term on everyone’s lips. As an analyst, I’m seeing (and hearing) that it’s top-of-mind with clients, technology vendors, at conferences and seminars, trade publications – everywhere, in fact, digital marketing is discussed.  There’s a sudden plethora of “content marketing experts” blathering on about the topic who you never heard of two weeks ago (a source of great amusement to those of us who have been undertaking serious work in the sector for years). “Content is king” is new all over again, even if that trope was tired as far back as when I still worked in television.

Sound familiar? It should. Content is where email was. It’s where search was, and one day, it will be where social media is headed: fully integrated into marketing, not a nice-to-have but a must-have.

Wallpaper. Really, it’s kind of the goal, isn’t it?

This post originally published on iMedia.

Image: “Sunset at sea” by Jan-Pieter Nap

Content Marketing Goes Far Beyond ‘Storytelling”

storyTo effectively create content marketing, you must be a master of storytelling.

True?

Nope.

Storytelling can indeed be an important, if not critical element of content marketing. But it’s not the be-all, end-all of content marketing strategy.  Now, I like a good story as much as the next person. Four of the most magical and riveting words in the English language are “once upon a time.” A story is a wonderful way to capture attention and interest. But it’s not the only way.

Recently I took part in a panel discussion on “branded content.” The proponents of that term asserted that all “branded content” is contingent on a marketer’s ability to tell a good story. Certainly content marketing tells plenty of great ones, from classics like Unilever’s Dove Real Beauty to newcomers like First Kiss, which (though arguably a stealth campaign for Wren Clothing),  was as narrative as it was riveting.

But there are two other types of “branded content.” (OK, I dislike that term, which has its roots in print advertorial, from which is probably picks up the storytelling association.  From now on let’s just use good, old-fashioned content marketing).  Storytelling plays little, if any, role in these types of content, but both types of brand-generated content can be equally as effective as brand storytelling.

There are three types of brand-created content marketing (as distinct from content not created by a brand, e.g. user-generated content, ratings, reviews, aggregated and curated content). The first bucket, content that entertains, is what generally falls into the storytelling camp. Think entertaining videos and other forms of narrative entertainment.  The two other types of content marketing are:

1. Educational or Informative Content

This type of content is  used in B2B or long-sales cycle purchases. Think automotive. Consumer electronics. Computers. Appliances. Consulting services. Much of it centers around how-to’s, or what to look for when buying…a flat screen TV; child safety seat; a mainframe computer. Different elements of this type of content are often geared to the sales cycle, or around educating customers around a new product category.

Educational/informative content can be thought leadership: white papers, opinion pieces, executive or specialist blogs, new product introductions. It can be instructional (how to use, set-up, activate, make an informed decision). Or it can cross- or upsell additional products and accessories for an existing purchase, e.g. why you might need a new attachment for that lawnmower. Or mixer.

Bottom line, it’s helpful, useful, instructional, and helps all along the purchase cycle, from awareness through to purchase, brand loyalty and advocacy.

2. Utility Content

Utility content is utterly devoid of story. It exists to help consumers get something done, e.g. complete a task, provide highly timely or tailored information, or understand a need. Most often, utility content takes the form of an app or a calculator. Ever calculated an interest rate on a bank’s website? Looked up calories, or a recipe from a brand’s database of ingredients? Then you’ve used utility content.

Because this type of content is app-ified, it’s gaining tremendous momentum on mobile devices. Think Better Homes & Gardens real-estate tool. Location aware, it locates nearby properties for sale, but also delivers information about average sale prices in the neighborhood, nearby schools, taxes, and other information a home buyer needs to make a purchase decision. Sit or Squat, an app developed by Charmin, is the Yelp of public restrooms, helping people who gotta go find the nearest accessible public restroom, complete with ratings and reviews (likelihood of toilet paper, or cleanliness, for example).

In fact, as I write this column in-flight, I’m realizing I just used Delta’s app to check in and ascertain my status on the upgrade list (alas, no dice). At the gate, I got a push message from Marriott telling me my room is ready at the other end of my journey.

All of the above is content. All of it is – or can be – branded. Only some of it tells a story. And that’s OK.

Please read the rest of this post on iMedia, where it originally published.

Image: http://windling.typepad.com

 

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Micro Content, Maxi Effect — How Shifts Toward Visual Content Will Impact Marketers

The written word seems to be on the decline, at least in the online space. Articles and white papers have morphed into blog posts and status updates. Hashtags, acronyms and emoticons stand in for sentences. OTP, BRB, LMK, OK?  :-)

How low can you go? In a year or two, 140 characters — a miserly allotment now — will seem a luxury, a vestige of an era marked by logorrheic verbosity.

If you doubted it before, believe it now: a picture really is worth the proverbial thousand words. Maybe more.

Opinion? Sure. But the facts bear this out. Facebook keeps redesigning to feature bigger, bolder images. Oh yeah, and the company bought Instagram for a cool million. Videos now auto-play on the platform. Yahoo, meanwhile, snatched up Tumblr. Twitter continues to make images and videos a more prominent part of the user experience. And don’t forget the increasing popularity of Pinterest, YouTube, and SnapChat — you can easily see where all this is going.

Research, too, bears out the hypothesis that visual (and audio-visual) content is subsuming the written word. As an analyst, when I ask marketers about the types of content and media channels they’re leaning toward in the future, all forms of written content are on the decline, from press releases to blog posts.  Investment is around multimedia and images.

Content types

The chart above highlights the reason behind this shift in the we communicate online: mobile. Simply put, no one’s about to read War and Peace on a smartphone. Mobile means a lot of things, but mostly it means that screens are getting smaller. The smaller the screen, the pithier information must be in order to be comfortably communicated and absorbed by its target audience.

Ease of use is key here as well. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter don’t create content, rather they enable its dissemination — and if no one updates their status, then these platforms don’t stand a chance. Clearly, it’s a lot easier to upload that shot of your Hawaiian vacation (or delicious lunch, or mischievous puppy) than to narrate in detail why such things are interesting — especially while using your thumbs and combating auto-correct.

Content Strategy Implications

That content is becoming shorter, less verbose and more visual obviously has tremendous ramifications for content strategy. Here are three major points to bear in mind.

Please read the rest of this post on MarketingLand, where it originally published. 

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Content Marketing: What’s the Big Idea?

bulbrite-g30-main-white-lgThe beginning of content marketing is content strategy, a governance structure that addresses why content is being created, what goals it addresses, and how, tactically, that content will be created, produced and disseminated.

Content strategy is essential. It strips away tactics and bright shiny objects (“We need a Facebook page/Instagram/Tumblr/Vine account! All the cool kids have one!”) and addresses the essential questions: Why and How?

Yet there’s an additional and very essential element of content strategy that’s much less discussed, albeit no less important that well crafted and well reasoned goals. The very best, most successful and essentially most sustainable content strategies all center around a Big Idea.

What’s the Big Idea?

Take IBM.  IBM is a ginormous, multifaceted, global conglomerate offering a broad palette of products and services. What Big Idea could possibly unify their diverse offering? Simple (but smart): Smarter Planet. If you look at the initiative’s home page, you’ll immediately see the Smarter Planet idea easily encompasses every industry vertical, global territory, channel and capability that IBM offers – or serves.

As diversified and complex as IBM may be, the company seems almost one-track when compared to a conglomerate like GE. From transformers to light bulbs, media to microwaves, commercial lending and power grid infrastructure – how can all this possibly be united under the governing principle of a Big Idea?

It can: Ecomagination.  The concept works for B2B, B2C, home appliances and municipal water supplies. Ecomagination is the concept that GE content ladders up to, and is accountable to. It’s no abstraction.  Ecomagination is clearly defined by the company as, “Ecomagination is GE’s commitment to build innovative solutions for today’s environmental challenges while driving economic growth.”

The beginning of content marketing is content strategy, a governance structure that addresses why content is being created, what goals it addresses, and how, tactically, that content will be created, produced and disseminated.

Content strategy is essential. It strips away tactics and bright shiny objects (“We need a Facebook page/Instagram/Tumblr/Vine account! All the cool kids have one!”) and addresses the essential questions: Why and How?

Yet there’s an additional and very essential element of content strategy that’s much less discussed, albeit no less important that well crafted and well reasoned goals. The very best, most successful and essentially most sustainable content strategies all center around a Big Idea.

Arriving at the Big Idea

The Big Idea is way, way too big to belong to the content team alone, or the social media group, or communications. The Big Idea is (yet another) Big Reason – particularly in an era of  converged media - for smashing silos. Every marketing message must incorporate, address and answer to the Big Idea. It’s therefore the responsibility of every marketing division to arrive at what the Big Idea is, and to effectively communicate it to all internal and external stakeholders.

Please read the rest of this post on iMedia, where it originally published.

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What to Measure: ROI or KPIs?

Digital marketing is constantly evolving and rapidly changing. It’s full of new technologies, new tactics, and new innovations. Yet there’s one constant: accountability. There’s an expectation that no matter how new, how cutting edge, how experimental or untested, it will all be perfectly measurable.

The reality is all digital marketing is and always will be measurable — but not always along traditional lines. And you can’t always measure what you most want to measure.

Analytics can reveal lots of insight, but there’s a staunch unwillingness to accept (in some quarters) that the exact knowledge desired might well be akin to reading tea leaves rather than spreadsheets and dashboards. This leads to a world of unrealistic expectations and flat-out delusions. As I wrote earlier this year:

“Everything is measurable, but not necessarily right out of the box. That’s why publisher metrics are applied to native advertising campaigns (though goals are widely divergent), and way too much stuff is measured in terms of “engagement,” which means something different to everyone who utters the term. A trend I’d really like to see in 2014, in addition to all kinds of good metrics such as the ability to attribute ROI and measure accountably while aligning with goals, is a readiness to admit that it’s just too early to apply hard-and-fast, unalterable metrics to brand new stuff we’re all still trying to figure out.”

Otherwise put, and very wisely so by Mashable’s CMO Stacy Martinet in a talk last week, “There’s a right metric for every campaign. But you have to figure out what it is, and you have to explain why to the boss.”

The right metric isn’t always ROI, but too often, ROI is the default, go-to metric to which marketers are being held accountable. Software manufacturers are under the same pressure. “How can we build ROI accountability into our dashboards?” is a question you hear over and over again in product meetings.

ROI is a wonderful thing. But it’s not always possible to track every single effort down to a dollars-and-cents return. Often, it’s not possible — or even the most desirable outcome. It’s also perfectly valid to have a goal of, say, message amplification in terms of social shares. If your YouTube video was shared 1.4 million times, that metric tells the right story.

Please read the rest of this post on iMedia, where it originally published.

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Content Strategy Gets Tactical: Establishing The Content Workflow

Content strategy — creating repeatable processes to govern content marketing and make it accountable to measurable goals — has many components.Content

Your first steps in putting together a content strategy include determining the goals, developing personas, analyzing content needs, and designating someone to serve in an editorial leadership capacity.

From there, you’ll want to establish a content workflow. This is the point at which content marketing gets tactical.

It’s a nuts-and-bolts process in which you will lay out content calendars, creation, approvals, style guides, templates and tools. Get this part right, and you’ll be ready to run a newsroom!

The Editorial Calendar: The Hub Of Your Content Workflow

At the very core of the content workflow is the editorial calendar. An editorial calendar establishes what content will be created, what format it should take, which channel it is meant for, and when it will be published. A digital editorial calendar also tracks the connections for a given piece of content, including how it will be repurposed and amplified in social media channels.

Editorial calendars track how often content is created (e.g., Twitter – 2x daily; Blog – 3x week; Newsletter – 2x month on Wednesday). They are also critical tools for tracking content ideas.

For example, a company striving to post four times per week on its blog may shoot for one originally authored piece, one commentary on current industry news, one guest post from an outside expert, and one round-up of curated links on interesting topics related to the business. Having specific goals helps to alleviate that “white page” syndrome when you know you have to create something, but you don’t have a clue what that something should be.

Many editorial calendars also incorporate the production process into the mix, which is a great way to ensure content creation is on track. This can include who’s responsible for individual content elements, the due date of a first draft, who conducts the copyedit, and a date (often, with a specific time) for receiving and proofing the final draft, entering it into the CMS system (or newsletter template, or blog platform), and when it will be pushed live, or published.

The editorial calendar should help outline a process for promoting and disseminating your content on various channels. For example, say you’re publishing a white paper or research report. How and when will that information be broken down, repurposed and funneled into other channels such as your blog, a press release, or an update on a social network? What about ad creative?

On that note, your calendar should include reminders to collect appropriate graphic elements and/or multimedia content (such as photos, charts or graphs) to enhance the written word.

The editorial calendar should be governed by a master calendar that takes into account key dates and events. It provides not only an overview of what content will publish by day, week or month, but ties that broader schedule together with specifics such as holidays, trade shows, company announcements, events (such as webinars), or new product launches.

Don’t forget to take international holidays into account if content is targeted to foreign countries or territories. These key dates should also help inform the editorial calendar with ideas for content themed for the Christmas season, perhaps, or a major industry conference at which you’ll be releasing a white paper.

Those holiday reminders in the calendar should be taken seriously, and they should be leavened with common sense. Seasoned editors don’t publish their best material late on a Friday afternoon in summer when the target audience is beach-bound, just as a financial services company should hold back publishing on a bank holiday Monday. That’s just common sense; you want your content to have the maximum possible reach and impact.

More Tools Of The Trade

The editorial calendar is a must-have tool for any content marketing strategy, and one that can be adapted to varying needs. What follows are a list of additional resources for the content “newsroom” that range from nice-to-have to must-have elements of content marketing initiatives, depending on the organization and goals.

Please read the rest of this post on MarketingLand.com, where it originally published.

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Is There Really a Content Glut?

credit: "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life"

credit: “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life”

You are just beginning to wrap your mind around the fact that content marketing is the new “it” thing in digital marketing when you hear it’s over. Too much noise, not enough signal. Too much content. Too much bad content. No one will ever find your content due to the glut of other content incessantly pouring into digital channels at an accelerating, unceasing rate.

You may as well hang it up and go home. Better yet, if you haven’t already, don’t even start doing this whole content marketing thing.

This argument, surfacing recently in a spate of blogs and articles, is as pointless as it is predictable. You may as well argue that you shouldn’t market via email because of spam. Or (as was suggested in a recent interview), claim it’s time to trash your website because all websites ”look alike” and are “boring.”

These are kneejerk reactions to disruption, more indicative of human nature than they are of the efficacy of new marketing strategies and techniques. Here’s what’s really going on:

  • It’s cool to be the first to the party.
  • It’s even cooler to declare the party’s over before anyone else does.

Only with content, you can’t do that because content is a constant. As I’ve said before in this column, content is the atomic particle of all marketing. No content = no website. No content = no email. No content = no social media, advertising, “creative,” DM, you name it. All those tactics and formats are, in effect, content envelopes.

Has a surge in the popularity of content marketing foisted more bad content upon us? You bet it has. So what else is new? Bad content, boring content, superfluous content — the world’s always been full of it and will continue to be full of it.

Even bastions of impeccably produced content, The New York Times, for example, can be tarred with this brush. For more decades than I’m willing to admit, as a print edition subscriber, my first act of the day was to bend over, pick up the paper, and chuck the sports section. That (to me, at least) is boring, superfluous, irrelevant content (though I can appreciate that you may be of an entirely different opinion). This did not, however, impel me to “turn off” my New York Times subscription.

If there’s a content glut, it’s because we’ve reached that very predictable stage in the disruption curve when a trend becomes a bandwagon. This results in spray and pray tactics, irrational exuberances, content “gurus” emerging from every quarter (most of them were social media gurus yesterday, and search gurus a couple of years back).

I won’t dispute for an instant that bad content is being created at a healthy clip. But I do disagree that all this noise drowns out the genuine signals.

Please read the rest of this post on iMedia, where it originally published.

What’s In Your Dream Content Marketing Toolbox?

What tools do you use in conjunction with your content marketing program?

What tools would you like to use?

Marketers aren’t holistically considering content needs before investing in tools. Far too often, they procure solutions with overlapping capabilities.

To date, there hasn’t been a detailed map of the content vendor landscape (though Curata maintains a good list). More important, the available content solutions haven’t been mapped to actual use cases.

There are tools out there for creation, curation, collaboration, compliance, and plenty of content chores that don’t start with the letter C, such as distribution and syndication, measurement and analytics, optimization, topic discovery, defining and finding an audience, and workflow management (among many others).

Who buys these solutions? How are they sourced? Who uses them inside of enterprises and agencies? Do those end-users actually have a say in the selection? Is there a budget for content technology in the enterprise? If there is, what types of solutions will it be spent on?

This is where I could really use your help. We’re researching the above questions to hopefully bring clarity to what is a somewhat confusing and tangled landscape of vendors and tools. We believe more clarity will emerge around the content vendor landscape, but not without marketers weighing in and making their wants and needs known.

May I ask for less than 10 minutes of your time, if you’re at all involved in content marketing, to respond to our research survey on the topic? The findings will be published and made publicly available.

The purpose of our research is to explore the plethora of content tools available, and map them to marketers’ actual needs and use cases, as well as how content tools are sourced, evaluated, and purchased. Some of the questions we’re trying to answer include:

  • How do real world content marketing cases use map to specific content tools?
  • What types of content tools are available to the market?
  • How do companies select/purchase content tools based on needs and use cases?

Once we have your responses, we’re going back to the vendors (more than 100 of them) with a questionnaire designed around the survey responses. In other words, we don’t want to evaluate content tools from a research analyst perspective or base our evaluations on what the vendors say they do. Rather, we are digging to uncover the needs and the processes in the marketplace.

Thanks very much for taking the time to weigh in on the survey. (And for passing the link along to your colleagues).

This post originally published on iMedia.

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For The Right Content Marketing Answers, Ask The Right Content Strategy Questions

content-marketing-featuredA big box retailer’s chief content officer of reached out recently with a question. Here’s what he wanted to know:

What is the percentage of content you see utilized comparatively that’s company generated versus user-generated versus contributor generated? I’m trying to see how others are looking at their mix.”

What would you have told him?

The proportional mix of content marketing tactics is a topic I haven’t researched as an analyst. While it would be interesting to explore, I suspect there’s never going to be a “right” answer — as is common in the marketing world, it ultimately depends on your business. In other words, it doesn’t matter what the other guys are doing. What matters is what’s right for you.

In addition to company-, user- and contributor-content, there are other sources of content as well, such as aggregated and curated content. All can contribute significantly to a content mix. Similarly, they can be components of different campaigns and initiatives.

Dell’s Tech Page One, for example, combines company + commissioned + curated content (as does their newly launched native advertising campaign in the NY Times).

Virgin, Blackberry and Intel all support robust content curation/aggregation sites in addition to creating significant content in the other buckets mentioned above. My company encourages individual analysts to create original content on our personal blogs and other social media channels, in addition to the research we publish and make available under Creative Commons.

Many retailers these days (though not the company that reached out to me with this question) are encouraging store associates to create content, often equipping them with mobile devices that allow them to tweet, post, photograph and video from the showroom floor. And of course, another tried-and-true retail content cornerstone is user-generated content — everything from user reviews to unboxing videos.

The right mix of content will always be “it depends.” If you’re selling jeans or computers to shoppers at the mall, it probably doesn’t matter that much what Red Bull or Intel or SAP are doing, content-wise. Their activities may provide ideas and inspiration — but at the end of the day, you’re in a different vertical, selling a different product, and targeting a different audience. Your content strategy needs to be aligned with your own business goals, not with someone else’s.

Content Strategy Is The Foundation Of Content Marketing

At the end of the day, the mix of content channels, media, and tactics loops back to content strategy. Virgin’s strategy is to reach millennials via news, both on their curated site and with native offerings on Buzzfeed. Intel created IQ so its staff could reach out to contacts in the industry, potential clients, etc., with targeted, relevant content. More original content that they themselves produce resides in other channels and serves other strategic goals.

Please read the rest of this post on MarketingLand, where it originally published.

Q&A With New York Times Meredith Kopit Levien on Native Advertising Launch

Meredith_Kopit_Levien_NYTimes

All prognostications for 2014 (including my own) point to native advertising as A Big Thing to watch this year – and it is. The FTC’s December workshop thrust native into the spotlight, but nothing has amplified the fact that native advertising has arrived more than the New York Times launch of Paid Posts, its native product that launched this week with Dell as the first advertiser.

Late as the Grey Lady may be to the party (virtually all other members of the Online Publishers Association already have some form of native advertising on offer), the Times is the Times; a standard bearer in media, publishing and journalistic best practices.

Native advertising has been both delayed and controversial at the newspaper of record. Executive Editor Jill Abramson has expressed strong reservations. Publisher and Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. very recently distributed a native advertising “manifesto” to staff.

So with the new product finally launched, I caught up with the Times’ EVP Advertising Meredith Kopit Levien to pose some questions about native advertising at the Times. Most are based around the best practice recommendations in my recent research on the topic of native advertising (download available here).

Q: Native advertising is highly labor intensive and requires “feeding the beast” with content. Your first advertiser, Dell, is led by Managing Editor Stephanie Losee, who has  a very strong editorial background. Will the Times have difficulties finding other clients up to this challenge?

Levien: We see a lot of clients who have developed their own newsrooms or who have always-on content strategies. Social media gave everybody the opportunity to be a publisher. The amount of maturity in the marketing is growing. There are a whole lot of marketers who have an always-on content strategy. Using that in conjunction with the Times’ content division is how we’ll produce content. Intel [another enterprise with a very mature content organization] and a handful of others will launch this quarter.

Q: What formal policies does the TImes have in places around church/state divisions? 

Levien: We’ll establish more over time. The brightest, clearest, most important is the newsroom is the newsroom. It does not touch [Paid Posts]. That will not change. That’s an important separation to keep. The others fall out from that. Also, Paid Posts carry a label and full disclosure.

Q: The Times is hiring freelancers to write Paid Post content. Can these same freelancers also write for the editorial sections of the paper?

Levien: That’s an evolving discussion.

 Q: Dell’s commitment is three months. What about other advertisers’ commitments? And given this is a premium product, will you limit how many advertisers can run Paid Posts at any given time?

Levien: We are establishing minimums. We don’t want to do this as a one-off. We also require that all content be original, not repurposed for the Times.  We’re not in any danger of the consumer thinking there’s too much of this on the site.

Q: If advertisers can’t bring their own content in, can they get your content to-go, so to say?

Levien: Once we co-produce the piece, the marketer can do with that what they want – the marketer has ownership. That’s the to-go model: using our content for their purposes.

Q: What metrics is the New York Times tracking to gauge the success of this program?

Levien: We are using an incredible vendor named SimpleReach. They have built a custom metrics dashboard. They give a marketer the same metrics the newsroom uses: pages, views, etc., also social referrals. How much traction is the content getting compared to editorial content? Secondly, is it trending on the social web, and if it is, what can we do to amplify it?

Q: Many publishers offering native advertising solutions, like Hearst and Buzzfeed, are offering training and educational programs to advertisers and agencies. Will the New York Times follow suit?

Levien:  Certainly in the early months we’re going to do collaborative education with the partners we bring on. It’s not out of the question we wouldn’t turn that into a program.  We have a  lot of knowledge about how content moves through our platform.

Q: There’s a great deal of role confusion when it comes to native advertising. Brands, their advertising agencies, PR agencies – everyone is jostling for position in this space. Who do you anticipate you going to work with?

Levien: There is  much more transition that will happen between paid owned and earned media. We’re mostly working with the brands, but there’s a huge role for the ad agencies and the PR agencies. Lots of brands have agencies who are helping to add to their content capabilities. We’ve tried to organize in a way that’s friendly to an agency buying.

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