GQ’s native ad offering ‘taking inspiration’ from Buzzfeed as it puts commercial and editorial content on ‘complete parity’

Conde Nast’s men’s lifestyle title GQ recently relaunched its site which saw it develop more integrated native ad placements, benchmarking from the success of its competitors, to woo advertisers onto the site.

The Drum spoke to Wil Harris, head of digital at Conde Nast, on how the publisher planned to offer greater native solutions within its restructured GQ site.

Harris said the site offers the same set of tools, the same kind of integration, and the same placement for native advertising as it does for editorial content. This means content that is created in collaboration with its commercial partners can show up in related articles, on the front page, in the story stream, and on social media in exactly the same way as its editorial content does.

“If we are creating content with commercial partners it should be accessible in the same way that all our other content is created. This new version of the GQ website puts commercial and editorial content on complete parity” said Harris.

He also added that in the creation of the new site, the GQ team benchmarked from other publishers who have invested heavily in creating native content that is a natural fit with their editorial strategy, citing the New York Time’s ‘Women Inmates’ collaboration with Netflix’s ‘Orange is the new black’ as an example of this.

“The one thing we have been really keen on is taking inspiration from our colleagues on different titles who have done native really well. Guardian Labs have got a really clear policy of what they will and won’t do and how they promote that content.

“Buzzfeed has amazing native integration,” he said. “They do native really well because they have a great formula, based on knowing their audience, creating great content and promoting it in a way that is completely seamless.”

Harris said the publisher did a lot of research both quantitatively and qualitatively as to how people are responding to native articles across the Conde Nast portfolio, summarising that “good content is good content” and that “people only dislike native content when it’s crap, in the same way that they dislike any content that is crap”. He added that it is important to be clear if an article is created by a brand “because no one wants to be hood-winked”.

With GQ developing its new site with a mobile-first strategy and launching GQ Video to bolster its digital offering, the magazine is future-proofing itself as more axe their print titles and going digital-only. Does Conde Nast think print will die it?

“Conde Nast still incredibly relevant in print, because each of the categories that Conde Nast operates in is the lead title. When you are at the top there is always demand. Everybody recognises that digital is a crucial and growing part of our everyday life and mobile even more so, but the print editions of what we do are still very strong and are not going anywhere.”

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