One of the byproducts of the content marketing and native advertising trends has been a morbid fascination with the erosion of the church-state wall between edit and advertising. However you view it, having editors involved, in some way, with native brand content arguably makes good business sense. The core strategy behind content marketing and native is, after all, a good story. Whether behind the scenes or out in the open, editors all across the industry are being asked to contribute in varying degrees to custom ad campaigns. Sam Moulton, most recently executive editor at Outside, was named content marketing director in March and will head up brand marketing efforts for the magazine’s print and digital platforms. We asked Moulton why he made the move and why it made particularly good business sense.
FOLIO: Why did this shift in roles make sense for you and the brand?
Sam Moulton: I understand the business side. I was starting to get pulled into projects that had sponsored content, native, etc. and was ‘consulting’ on them. We decided there was a natural opportunity. We didn't have anyone on the marketing side that had editorial experience. That was increasingly becoming a challenge because the programs we were running had more and more editorial components.
FOLIO: In general terms, is it important to have an editor in this type of role at a magazine brand?
Moulton: I think so. It depends on the company and the brand. A lot of brands are coming to us with these native opportunities. They’re coming to us because we’re the best storytellers they know. We’re the best at creating videos and articles, but that’s not necessarily true of the people executing on the marketing side. That's not to disparage the marketing department, because they're very good at marketing and that's what they've traditionally done. But things have changed. Now, we're better balanced.
FOLIO: Describe some of the challenges of your new position.
Moulton: Native is the trendy thing right now. Sometimes it's trying to convince our clients that it's not always the best solution. It works better for some brands than others. A challenge is figuring out the right solution. A lot of brands are reaching for native without realizing they have to answer a lot of questions first. Who are you trying to reach? What’s the goal? Sometimes I'm trying to talk a brand into an idea, and they can't get out of their own way. They want to talk about the product. But people like stories about people. Let’s downplay the product and pump up the human component.
Getting the labeling right is really important—the last thing I want to happen is have the reader be confused. Also, if we get more of this, we have to find a balance. We don't want the user to come to the site and see all of this native stuff.