Taboola Think Tank: Four Questions With Business Insider’s SVP of Business and Audience Development Rich Kennedy

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In our previous Taboola Think Tank post, we spoke with digital and business development leaders from the Los Angeles Times and ThePostGame.com about native advertising. For our second installment, we are continuing our exploration of native through the eyes of clear experts in our industry. We spoke with Rich Kennedy, senior vice president of business and audience development at Business Insider, about BI’s approach to native and their long-term strategies.

Define native advertising in your own words. 

RK: For Business Insider, native ads are those that are built specifically for digital. Whether sponsored in-stream content or large in-stream display ads, native is meant as a seamless part of our users’ content experience; it doesn’t just live adjacent to it.

What is your organization’s general approach to native and how does it play into a long-term engagement and/or monetization strategy?

RK: On our site, native ads draw their inspiration from the posts, galleries and infographics created by our editorial team, which of course operates completely separately. We’re still in the early stages – our long-term strategy is to broaden and deepen how we work with our partners in developing native content that is, ideally, as engaging and informative as that created by our editors.

As traffic surges on mobile, what steps are you taking to monetize content while maintaining Business Insider’s editorial standards?

RK: The same philosophy applies on desktop as it does on tablet and mobile: On all platforms, our focus is on the best possible reader experience. Right now, about half of our site visits come from smartphones and tablets. In terms of execution, typically, we work to create cross-platform programs for our partners with identical (whenever possible) targeting and placements. In all but a handful of isolated cases, there’s no distinction between desktop and mobile.

Can you provide our readers with 3 tips to help measure the success or failure of their sponsored content campaigns?

RK:

1.    Don’t evaluate native like banners. Engagement is different from impressions served. Consuming a piece of content is different than an ad being delivered. The results of a sponsored content program will therefore be unlike those of a banner media buy.

2.     Create and maintain benchmarks. This is a relatively new space and comparative measures will help you contextualize your program. We utilize benchmarks according to the type of sponsored content, topic, and many other KPIs to help make sense of the performance of a given campaign.

3.     Prioritize your KPIs. Do you want deep engagement or wide social amplification? While partners may want to blow out performance against all metrics, this could happen but rarely does. Knowing what you’re looking to achieve and optimizing against it is critical to getting the most out of your program.

Our conversation with Rich confirmed that publishers entering the native space on mobile continue to focus on their overall objective: to provide users with thoughtful and engaging content across all platforms. Business Insider’s approach to sponsored content involves building strong relationships with their partners to create the most high-quality content possible. Notably, Rich also validated that every marketer has a different set of goals and priorities and before you dive into the native pool, it’s important to define meaningful KPIs so you can create your own scale of measurement.

To learn how Taboola can help your business build an audience and monetize content, click here.

About Rich Kennedy

Senior Vice President, Business and Audience Development

Business Insider

Rich Kennedy is SVP, Business and Audience Development for Business Insider. He is responsible for the growth and operations of Business Insider’s third party revenue and content partnerships and the expansion of the site’s audience domestically and internationally. Before Business Insider, Rich worked at Blip TV as SVP of Operations and Business Development and at UGO Entertainment as SVP of Business Development. Rich started his career as a radio producer at WBCN and received his BA from Boston College and his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

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