My journey into Native Advertising and Content Marketing
Before my appointment as Head of Adspace Studio – the native advertising and content marketing outfit for Media24 news – my decade-long career in journalism culminated as Managing Editor for News24.
In 2018 a few significant life events converged – I was completing my MBA at Wits Business School; I turned 30; and I was pregnant with my first daughter. It was a good time for self-reflection – which resulted in my career-shift.
Our commercial teams worked (work!) tirelessly to create a sustainable future for our newsrooms, and I knew my journalism background coupled with my MBA would make me a good fit for this team. I accepted a role on our commercial division as Head of Native Advertising soon after completing my business studies – and I’ve not looked back.
I now lead a dynamic team of writers, videographers, podcasters and designers. We offer our partners journalistic storytelling solutions, with commercial clout.
Why should brands consider content?
The Content Marketing Association estimates content marketing accounts for 20% of global marketing spend – and that’s set to increase. This doesn’t surprise me. Millennials and GenZ have changed the face of purchasing by aligning their spend with brands that have purpose and a story. We’re looking for emotional, sustainable connections and content is the best way to communicate brand purpose.
Commercial content goes beyond product and price; it’s not about selling a product or a service – it’s about communicating a sentiment or emotion through content that is useful and relevant to the user. Brands willing to forgo a hard sell in favour of a ‘slower burn’ approach reap the benefits of loyal, highly engaged communities. I see this first-hand in my world: two recent, concurrent campaigns for a banking client yielded average times of page of 28 and 26-minutes respectively for long-form written content – truly astounding in our cluttered attention economy.
South African brands should have even more impetus to invest in content campaigns. As a nation, our storytelling traditions are rich and robust, and our content campaigns’ higher-than-average engagement times suggest local audiences are willing to invest their time – and valuable data – in content campaigns.
What’s the next big thing for content marketing?
Purpose-driven content marketing is key for 2022 and beyond. I can’t stress this enough: audiences are wise to virtue signalling and greenwashing. Inauthentic or misleading marketing campaigns are a waste of everyone’s time. Instead, invest in content that uplifts the reader and does good for local communities. It’s not just the right thing to do – it makes business sense. Research shows 42% of surveyed millennials said they would deepen their relationship with brands that positively impact society or the environment. I’m proud to lead the team that has been awarded WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Africa Award for best branded content four-years in a row (2018 – 2021). Just this month Adspace24 won Best in Africa in the Best in Show at the International News Media Association’s (INMA) 2022 Global Media Awards, for City Press & ABSA Money Make Over. All of those campaigns were purpose-driven, with content that either uplifted local communities or the reader themselves.
What makes the Media24 news environment perfect for content campaigns?
At Adspace Studio, our unique proposition is commercial content that meets our publisher sites’ highest editorial standards – hosted in trusted, brand-safe news environments. My content team all have publishing backgrounds – we know content and we know our audiences which makes us uniquely placed to create journalistic quality content, with commercial impact for our brand partners.
But, as BuzzFeed’s Jonathan Perelman famously said: If Content is King; Distribution is Queen. Our digital footprint reaches 21m UBs while our print readership exceeds 10 million South Africans. Herein lies our secret weapon: we’re able to serve tailored content to targeted audiences across our network; to ensure the right person is seeing the right content, at the right time.
View our work on https://www.adspace24.co.za/our-work.
To listen to comments on Content Marketing from our “We have Great News” webinar held on 5 May, please click on the link below
 The State of Content Marketing in South Africa: IAB South Africa, 2022
2 Meet Generation Z: Shaping the Future of Shopping: McKinsey, 2020
3 The Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey
|Jerusha Raath leverages a decade’s experience as a journalist and editor in her role as Head of Adspace Studio. A multiple-award winner for digital publishing, she was chosen as one of 28 women globally for the Poynter Institute’s 2018 Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. She holds an MBA from Wits Business School and serves on the IAB South Africa’s Content Marketing Committee. She is a coach for Digital Women Leaders and the South African Media Investment Partnership.