Brand partnerships build synergy, reader interest with native advertising

By Lewis Boulton


London, United Kingdom


When it comes to sharing our favourite campaigns as an industry, display tends to dominate.

They’re the bitingly witty one-liners placed in just the right context for maximum impact. They’re the showcases of masterful creativity, often with few words but big ideas. They’re sharp communicators, sitting at the very front line of a brand’s identity and dialogue with consumers.

But I want to turn my attention elsewhere: the humble brand partnership.

Well, I say humble in that they often receive less attention from columns like these, but the strengths of native ads and brand partnerships are nothing to keep quiet about. These long-form, editorial-style ads are perfect for providing useful or insightful information about subjects readers care about. They are a natural fit for news brands that know their engaged audiences like the back of their hands.

Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and native’s effectiveness in news brands comes to the forefront when it comes to engagement metrics.

For example, according to RAMetrics, 77% of print and digital readers find native ads easy to understand, 65% learn new information from them, and 61% find them appealing. Younger audiences also say they are much more open to engaging with native over “traditional advertising.”

What’s more, these campaigns are no longer limited to long-form articles in print supplements. Many campaigns now harness a fuller range of platforms to share their brand message with readers, whether that’s through short video documentaries, intimate podcast series, or stunningly designed interactive Web pages.

Here are just some of the best native ads and brand partnerships from the past few months.

The Sunday Times and Jet2Holidays

Travel and news brands are a perfect fit, particularly when it comes to brand partnerships. This campaign shows how readers can take advantage of the finer things on their holidays, with the travel operator’s tips for the very best spa breaks, exhilarating sport, and Michelin-star food across its European partner hotels.

Evening Standard and Buscopan

Out of all the places to expect to find a brand partnership for IBS treatment, would the Evening Standard’s weekly fashion, culture, and lifestyle supplement rank highly on your list? Perhaps not.

However, this campaign harnesses the editorial format ES magazine readers have come to love and expect to bust myths and taboos about IBS, which can affect the everyday lives even of glamorous models wearing the very latest statement pieces for the season.

The Independent and KwikFit

Motor repair garage chain KwikFit partnered with the news brand at the end of 2022 to deliver its campaign looking into female pioneers of the motoring industry and giving readers the confidence to drive safely.

The partnership made good use of Indy TV: Its “Tales from the Back Seat” series includes guests like trailblazer Laura Kennedy, the owner of London’s only all-female garage, about how she fell in love with driving and her top tips for keeping your car up to scratch.

Daily Mirror and Co-op Funeralcare

Following the pandemic, Co-op Funeralcare found the British public was suffering from a “bereavement crisis,” with 74% of bereaved people demonstrating at least high levels of vulnerability from being unable to access adequate support. Reach and the funeral services company launched its content with a mission to break down taboos.

Among other parts of its multi-platform campaign, Daily Mirror columnist Coleen Nolan hosted a podcast looking into how grief has affected well-known celebrities in their lives and to put dealing with death higher up the news agenda. Promoted across parent company Reach’s portfolio of news brands and on the Mirror’s front page, the podcast also featured insights from Co-op Funeralcare’s team of experts.

The Telegraph and Sage

The possibilities of native content mean advertisers can appear as part of content that readers wouldn’t necessarily associate with their brand. A perfect example of this is enterprise software company Sage’s partnership with the rugby Six Nations championship, which provides technology for the sport’s “smart ball.” Veteran rugby journalist Mark Souster investigates how the ball is revolutionising rugby.

On another note, this ad also demonstrates digital’s ability to bring in stunning designs that elevate long-form content beyond imagery. The site layout of Sage’s sponsored content is a case in point, mixing striking colour with modern graphics and sweeping transitions.

About Lewis Boulton

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