The Cheezburger View of Native Ads

Digiday asked Ben Huh, CEO of Cheezburger and a co-founder of mobile news app Circa, his take on the digital revolution taking place in the publishing industry and how publishers will need to adapt to meet the changing needs of readers and advertisers.  Huh will be speaking about how to use fun to improve reader loyalty at the upcoming Digiday Publishing Summit.

Is there too much pressure on editors to drive pageviews? Is it coming at the expense of quality even at serious news outlets? How do you bridge the gap?
Journalism is under immense pressure to justify its business value. This is driving increased pressure to create eyeball journalism with fewer resources. Part of the problem is that the costs of news gathering and publishing are still very high. There’s too much repetition in news.

Will sites designed to primarily support native advertising become the new standard? In terms of design, how do you achieve a balance in meeting the needs of advertisers versus creating a user experience that will satisfy readers?
Not every publisher will have the lift and leadership to run a scalable native ad business. Publishing is highly fragmented, and native ads, while effective, create more overhead for the agencies. For example, at Cheezburger, we’re combining native ads with IAB [units] in our sales to make it more efficient for ad buyers while providing higher value. Different ad products have different uses, and as the market matures, we’ll see them settle into their rightful place.

In five years, will every major publisher have an in-house content studio, or will it still be possible to generate native ad revenue without one?
As specific market niches grow, you’ll see diversification in how that niche gets served. Native ads will be created by both in-house production as well as outsourced and technology-driven creation. The question is, what will be the market-leading method? Native ads have the potential to keep fragmenting and consolidating back, and this will continue to drive some of the higher underlying costs in native ads, but also offer a place for creative solutions.
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