HuffPo global boss: native advertising ‘adds value for everybody’


Sabloff speaking at AdTech

The Huffington Post executive overseeing its international operations has said native advertising and sponsored content can “add value for everybody” and, if done well, will not deceive readers.

As the news site edges closer to its launch in Australia – slated for the second quarter – executive editor international, Nicholas Sabloff, argued the focus should be on the quality of the content, not on who produced it.

Speaking to Mumbrella on the sidelines of the ad tech conference in Sydney yesterday, Sabloff conceded he could understand the debate surrounding native advertising but insisted it can benefit readers.

“When native advertising is done right it adds value for everybody,” he said. “It adds value for the reader. It should be a great piece of content, a great story, a great narrative, and not so much about who produced it.

“If it tells me a good story, if it resonates, if it gives me information that is useful and interesting, then that shouldn’t be a bad experience for the reader.”

The Huffington Post has a ‘Partner Studio’ to create sponsored stories, with Sabloff stressing editors will not be “tapped on the shoulder” and told to write such native content.

“That is a very important point to make,” he said. “It’s not something on the editorial side that I am producing.

“It’s not tapping an editor on the shoulder. That’s why we have a partner studio and a team that works on that.”

But Sabloff agreed that publishers need to be transparent and clearly mark native content.

“Sure I can understand the debate and that is why it’s so important the content is clearly marked,” he said. “It’s not a deception, it’s not about sneaking an advertisement in front of someone and pretending it’s editorial.

“It’s marked and clear to someone they are reading sponsored content. And if the quality of that content is interesting and tells an engaging story I think that is a valuable experience for the reader.”

Speaking at the conference, Sabloff said it was actively working towards the Australian launch. It will be The Huffington Post’s 14th market with an Arabic language edition and expansion into China and Mexico also on the horizon.

He highlighted figures that suggest by 2016, 66 per cent of global advertising spend will be outside of North America.

“We are following the money. The numbers are there, we need to follow them,” he told delegates.

“That’s where the money is and that’s where our growth will be in the future.”

He also stressed the need to work with an established and respected local player – The Huffington Post has partnered with Fairfax in Australia – in a bid to provide local knowledge.

Partnering with “powerhouse brands”, such as Le Monde in France and El Pais in Spain, will enable The Huffington Post to “do something bigger and faster than we could do ourselves”, Sabloff said.

“We want each of our editions to reflect the local audience. We don’t want it to be the Huffington Post France. We want it to be French Huffington Post.

“We want the DNA of the Huffington Post but we want it to be every bit as French as Le Monde and Le Figaro. That is key for us.”

Sabloff said an easy mistake to make in English speaking markets is to assume people are interested in the same content.

“We have found that is just not the case, even going across the border to Canada, or whether in the UK and here in Australia,” he said.

Steve Jones


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