We’re not really fans of The Sun newspaper over these parts…

But there’s interesting news about it with owners News UK confirming that the title’s getting rid of its paywall as of yesterday. The paywall hasn’t “worked for us in the right way” according to its commercial chief, Dominic Carter.

Instead News UK wants to create better commercial opportunities for its advertisers which they hope is a strategy that will seep through the business and stop them being ‘over-reliant’ on agencies and be more direct with advertisers.

The Sun announcing a paywall raised eyebrows back in 2013, and its failure is very interesting from a marketing perspective, especially with Carter admitting that News UK’s future strategy for The Sun “is a bit of a wait and see.”


The Sun is taking down its paywall in November 2015


We talked last week about Bauer Media shutting down two of its most well-known brands in FHM and ZOO thanks to changing markets.

ShortList editor Martin Robinson hit the nail on the head recently when he pointed out that the male market is now using moisturiser and taking selfies. Metrosexualism, he adds, is now moot because that’s how most men naturally behave anyway.

Listen to some traditional publishing houses and it’s a tale of woe with no solvable solutions. Nonsense; if that were the case then how come content producers like BuzzFeed, TheLadBible, Vice, Slate, and countless others have become huge properties, with BuzzFeed in particular opening international offices?

It’s precisely because of the modern way they work with advertisers and the solutions they offer. And one of the most popular solutions they offer is native advertising.

Your Turn: Have paywalls had their day, or are they a serious way of making money for publishers and content creators? Let me know in the comments section below.

A new slant on native

Native advertising is something I’ve discussed before but in short it’s content created by the site owner that fits in with the articles and videos that it publishes on a daily basis. It looks like a normal piece of content native to the site, but should be clearly labelled as an advertisement.

It’s not the only reason for the success of digital publishers but it’s one of the best ways for both content creators and advertisers to get exposure. But gauging a return on investment can be a problem when it comes to content, so how can the advertiser measure success?

Mashable thinks it has the answer with a native advertising solution with Visa that began yesterday on Cyber Monday. It has added a Mashable Shop which is being sponsored by Visa, and is using Visa’s ‘Visa Checkout’ payment service, too.



The Mashable shop is a long-term native solution that’s set to be in business throughout 2016. It will feature products from Visa’s partners as well as tech-based Kickstarter products, and branded Mashable products such as hoodies and sunglasses.

Mashable CMO Stacy Martinet has said “For us this is more of a brand play than a revenue play. We are not looking at this as an e-commerce play.

Whatever the play it is an extremely clever one mixing native advertising with e-commerce to create a native commerce solution for Mashable’s brand sponsors. Pairing it with sponsored content that it provides Visa, Mashable can drive traffic to its store and encourage people to discover more about Visa, its partners, and use its Checkout service.

Promoting the product and getting people to be in a position to use the product is an different thing. Here Mashable is showing the digital possibilities of publishing and e-commerce, and the extremely flexible model of native advertising with partners.

Your Turn: Do you use native advertising to promote your website and as part of your PR strategy? Has it helped your business grow and increase conversions? Let me know below!

Visa interesting times

Visa seem happy with it, as the campaign’s expected to offer Visa Checkout’s services to a huge audience of tech-savvy millennials via the Mashable Shop; a market that Visa is eager to tap into.

“It’s an evolution of the marketing, advertising and commerce capabilities coming together. That’s exciting because I think it’s a good leading indicator of what you’ll see a lot of folks in the space do”, says Sam Shrauger, Visa senior VP-digital solutions.

Just like in content marketing a good article, video, image or other piece of content can help to bring in lots of traffic, but you need to work on the design and development of your site to create an engaging user journey that encourages people to spend.

That’s why it’s so disappointing to hear of the likes of Bauer and News UK take such a light approach to their digital strategies and pointing to markets. The markets are there. It’s the publisher’s responsibility to offer them something new in this digital age.


Is Native Commerce The Gateway to Greater Conversions?


Native content can help tell incredible stories, and funnelling that native sponsorship to other brand areas, such as Mashable are doing here with Visa, will help get results for both parties and – even better – give Mashable solid ROI figures to present to other potential brands and sponsors.

As impressive as the plan is it’s even more heartening that they’ve been willing to issue press releases and interviews about the strategy, and are being completely open and transparent about it. It’s a good sign from Visa, too, that they’re so willing to talk about the native route they’re going down.

Because make no mistake, if you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of native advertising you need to label your content as such so as not to mislead your audience. Not only can it land you in very hot water, but it can also dent brand confidence and trust in what you’re providing.

That goes for all forms of native content, whether on-site, on social media, on YouTube, or however you push it. But get it right and a good flexible native strategy can be a real boost to conversions as well as putting you in the spotlight as a brand worth backing from sponsors.

If you’d like to know more about native advertising, content marketing, and how it can help promote your business online contact a Webpresence representative today.

(Image: Campaignlive)