Where advertising is coming from continues to change

Shifting sands continue to shift. Can Digital Shops Survive the Branded Content Boom?

With the BuzzFeed effect in full swing as more and more online publishers mimic the popular viral news site by creating sponsored content for brands, digital agencies find themselves forced to adapt.

Over the past two months, CNN, AOL and Snapchat have joined The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other publishers in starting up their own in-house studios. That’s got digital shops rethinking their role, even as they fight back by emphasizing their strengths among their clients.

Credited as the first publisher to go all in with native advertising in 2010, BuzzFeed continues to invest aggressively in the space. Its content studio staffs 80 on the creative side, up from 42 in 2013. In June, it hired veteran Pepsi marketer Frank Cooper as its first CMO and creative chief. The aim: to grab as big a chunk as it can of the $4.3 billion that eMarketer projects brands will spend on native ads this year, a 34 percent increase versus last year.

“The cost of entry to compete with somebody has collapsed, so it creates a scenario where everybody can go after the dollar,” said Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia.

Leaving the ethical considerations of a news operation running advertising concerns aside for a while, what does that last quote mean to you?

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