Native Advertising and Native Storytelling Big Topics at the Digital Innovators Summit 2014

Reaching consumers exactly where they are, in the medium and even on the exact platform they are using, is a goal most media companies and advertisers are talking about.  Add to that creating content that is optimized for each platform, and you have native storytelling; create advertising so that it fits almost seamlessly into the surrounding content, both in form and in function, and you get native advertising.

Few do native advertising and native storytelling as well as Buzzfeed, NowThis News and The Onion – and all three of them will be speaking at the upcoming Digital Innovators’ Summit in Berlin.

Buzzfeed integrates native advertising (almost) seamlessly

Buzzfeed is well known as one of the pioneers of native advertising, with their sponsored posts that not only resemble typical Buzzfeed content, but also sit right between it.  Buzzfeed’s style of content itself is quite distinct and apparently well received by its young, media savvy audience, attracting reportedly 70 million unique users a month.  While some in traditional media might brush the list-heavy and often “fluffy” entertaining pieces off as no threat to them, they should be aware that Buzzfeed is moving more and more into real journalism and hard news – and into more and more countries and languages. 

If you still have questions about Buzzfeed’s approach following the presentation by Scott Lamb, Vice President International at Buzzfeed, at the Digital Innovators Summit, you’ll have a chance to ask him yourself.

NowThis News delivers native storytelling for mobile and social media

NowThis News takes native storytelling to another level.  Here, news is prepared very visually with plenty of video for and distributed to the very platforms that digital natives are really using – from mobile apps for Apple and Android smartphones over established social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus all the way to Instagram, Vine and even Snapchat. Yes, you read that right – news presented in looping microvideos and self-destructing photos. NowThis News editor-in-chief Ed O’Keefe explains at the Digital Innovators Summit how they approach the different platforms and why he thinks that truly native storytelling is the future of journalism.

Founded by one of the founders of The Huffington Post, entrepreneur and venture capitalist Ken Lerer, NowThis News recently partnered with NBCUniversal News Group, who also invested in it.  So chances are that at least one major news outlet will now be able to catch the youngest and hardest to reach consumers in the latest digital platforms including Instagram, Vine and Snapchat – and whichever new ones come along next.

The Onion produces humorous custom content

Unique in its own way is The Onion, which started out as a satirical newspaper and has moved almost entirely online.  In a world of complex and frequently disheartening news, The Onion puts a satirical and often laugh-out funny spin on things. Advertisers who want to reach consumers in this engaging environment have to hit just the right tone – and The Onion helps them do that, with custom content including video that is as funny as it is effective in its branding. 

Marketers can even have humorous branded content produced by the Onion Labs to be offered on other channels, like their own websites and YouTube. CEO Steve Hannah will share the story of The Onion and give insights into its unique content and its business model.

Optimized for people, not search

All of these offerings have one more characteristic in common – they optimize their content for people.  These days, making an article or video that people happily share on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks is often considered a lot more valuable than getting a high search ranking on Google.


If you want to hear more about native advertising and native storytelling from the executives at NowThis News, Buzzfeed and The Onion directly, as well as many more inspiring and instructional stories from other media companies and organisations, join us on 24 – 25 March 2014 in Berlin at the Digital Innovators’ Summit. Check out our programme, and if you are interested and haven’t signed up yet, register here. Still not quite convinced? Find even more good reasons to attend here. Also consider signing up for the Meet the Founder Tour to get to know some dynamic startups in their own locations and experience the vibrant Berlin startup scene firsthand on the afternoon of Sunday, March 23, before the start of the conference.