Bauer Media MD of advertising Richard Dunmall – ‘Native advertising has blurred lines more than ever – but that’s exciting’

Consumers are happy to allow lines between content and commercial to become blurred as long as there is a clear value exchange in it for them, according to Bauer Media MD of advertising Richard Dunmall.

Speaking at the PPA’s Re-invented conference in London today, Dunmall, who has recently overseen the launch of products championing the native advertising model – such as The Debrief and The Equaliser – said that the company’s own research into target markets showed that consumers accepted “blurred lines” between content and commercial if they could glean a real benefit for them as a result, and that the format was now key in their commercial strategy.

“The relationship between content creation and commercialism is more blurred than ever but that’s actually quite exciting,” he said.

“What we realised about our audience based on, surprise surprise, asking them what they thought ,was that they’re quite happy to have a blurred line between content and commercial provided there is a value exchange for them as individuals.”

He added that native advertising was becoming a strong revenue driver and the business saw further opportunity to develop it.

“Forms of branded content, and making sure that it is well known but also a more immersive experience, is key to our strategy and a big opportunity for us."

Native advertising has been a contentious topic in the industry due to concerns that giving advertising a more 'native' place next to editorial could be confusing or misleading for readers.

Dunmall addressed the conference just days after the completion of Bauer’s commercial leadership team was announced. The company, which counts brands such as Heat, Kiss, Grazia, Empire, Magic and Absolute Radio among its portfolio, this week announced fresh appointments in Bauer Advertising’s “new, refreshed and refocused” service for commercial partners.

Colette Lister will take up a head of operations role after more than seven years at Bauer as commercial operations director in radio, while Krissie Ford has been named head of client development.

James Wilson, currently commercial programming director for Kiss, Magic and Place, will become head of creative suite, and all will report to Dunmall.

Dunmall took up the role of managing editor of advertising last November 2013, and since then Bauer has launched online women’s lifestyle magazine The Debrief, and most recently, an email newsletter product for football fans, The Equaliser, which also aims to make strong use of native advertising.

In addition, Bauer staged a competition earlier this year inviting agencies and creatives to pitch their best idea for a native advertising campaign and win £50,000 worth of media space on The Debrief.