Sunday, July 21, 2013

PR Agencies Eye Native Ad Dollars

The world’s largest PR agency has published an ethical framework for managing native advertising. In addition to the ethical guidelines, it’s a quick read on the origin of native, the trajectory of the new space as well as typical buying tactics. The report was authored by Steve Rubel, Edelman’s Chief Content Strategist, and is perhaps the most comprehensive summary of the native ad landscape to date.

After reading Overheard in Digital Media’s post on how large scale native advertising could injure the web’s credibility, a representative from Edelman reached out to Overheard to discuss its own report. I had a conversation with Mr. Rubel, who made it clear his report is not meant to be the definitive record but rather, the beginning of a dialogue on an important matter for the industry from both a financial and social perspective. Mr. Rubel is “bullish” on the native ad economy but is sincere about balancing the financial benefit with a need to preserve the web’s integrity. Edelman, like the rest of the industry, is part of a high stakes balancing act that is on the radar of Wall Street on one side, and the FTC on the other.

From an agency perspective, the most newsworthy element of the report is how Edelman plans to tackle native ads from an operational perspective. Edelman has opted to emulate the “church and state” structure traditionally used by publishers to insulate the newsroom from the sales team. So what does that look like at a PR agency? Structurally, Edelman will launch a media buying arm dedicated to the amplification of PR. This new division will be kept separate from the firm’s core PR operations. To keep with the church and state analogy, Edelman’s media buying arm would be analogous to a publisher’s sales force, while its core PR business is most like a publisher’s newsroom.

The migration of the church and state model from publishers to agencies illustrates how native advertising is disrupting the agency model and causing firms to innovate and evolve their operational structure.

Here’s an example of how I could see this working: A technology brand hires Edelman to generate press about the brand’s new mobile app, hoping it will lead to downloads. Edelman’s PR division gets to work and pitches relevant publications about the client’s new app. One publication, say Mashable, finds the pitch newsworthy and decides to run an editorial feature that mentions the app. Once the editorial feature is published, Edelman uses its PR acumen to determine if the story is worthy of paid amplification. If so, its media buying arm is activated and commences a native ad buy on a host of related sites with the goal of acquiring traffic to the Mashable article. The end result is that more people see the article which drives awareness of the app in a credible way, potentially translating into more downloads and a happy client.

In its press release, Edelman made clear it sees native advertising as a business opportunity for PR firms. Will its new church and state model help it win share of native ad dollars? Time will tell. 


  1. I found this blog very informative. Thank you! Public relations firms are using the strategic function in the improvement of the business. With the implementation of public relation in the business, various types of complex promotional elements can be conveyed to the customers or target audiences with a seamless and smooth transaction. I would personally like to suggest, that you research on some good PR firms website on the internet. A friend of mine, suggested me to visit a website, named as,, as they provide a comprehensive approach to build effective and efficient communications platforms in Miami.

  2. No matter whatever happens native advertising will be effective for marketing purpose. PR agencies uses various methods to create public relationship better and work for the company business promotion. However, Edelman example of the PR marketing campaign for that new mobile app is truly a great example and informative. Most important in any marketing is monitoring results. Our panxpan analytic software have a Public Relations module and it helps users monitor and analyze their results. So how many Pr releases over time, amount spent on PR over time, number of people reached and number of conversions gained.

  3. PR agencies shared ethical framework for managing native advertising is worth studying. The framework seems to me very good and the guideline shared here is constructive. I was creating a useful PR marketing based guideline post, which I'll submit to paper writing, and hopefully readers will find it beneficial like this post does.

  4. Yes, it is true that PR agencies is important for the business owner and your native dollars ads concept is look good and hope it'll helps me on my next writing.


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