The Crucial Starting Point For Building a Digital Commerce Business

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In the latest episode of Rainmaker FM, Brian Clark and I talk about the big picture of digital commerce.

Many of us are now familiar with platforms like Udemy and Skillshare, but in 2007 Copyblogger launched its first product, one that was aimed directly at the myth that people wouldn’t pay for digital content.

A lot has happened in those seven years, and a lot of businesses have moved (and been born) online.

What does this mean for you?

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Is Native Advertising Ethical? (It Depends On Who You Ask)

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Let’s see.

A dubious six-page insert in the Denver Post appears one Sunday.

You flip through it and see articles like “Reclamation helps balance environment and energy needs” and “Colorado environmental regulations serve as model for rest of the U.S.”

The section is labeled “Advertising Supplement to the Denver Post” and looks, design-wise, somewhat different from the rest of the Post, but clearly intended to look like a Post article.

Yet it isn’t.

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12 Examples of Native Ads (And Why They Work)

Guinness Guide to Cheese advertorial

Despite all the hype, native advertising remains a fuzzy concept for most marketers.

According to our 2014 status report:

  • 49 percent of respondents don’t know what native advertising is
  • 24 percent are hardly familiar with it
  • Another 24 percent are somewhat familiar
  • Only 3 percent are very knowledgeable

So, given the lack of awareness (and people mistaking it for other things, like sponsorship), we thought it would be a good idea to walk you through about a dozen examples of native advertising — and why they work.

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Copyblogger’s 2014 State of Native Advertising Report

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Native advertising is paid content that matches a publication’s editorial standards while meeting the audience’s expectations.

Think Captain Morgan’s campaign on BuzzFeed in general, their 15 Things You Didn’t Know About 15 Captains, Commanders And Conquerors article in particular.

First off, the theme of the article matches the brand’s values: Captain Morgan was a real live pirate who thrived on adventure and raw conquest — a theme not too foreign to BuzzFeed readers.

Moreover, the article matches the editorial standards of BuzzFeed: a list with big images and short, quirky copy — a format their audience expects.

Three important points need to be noted here:

  • The content is clearly labeled “BuzzFeed Partner.”
  • Nothing is being sold. The call to action is to visit the Captain Morgan YouTube page.
  • The Captain Morgan BuzzFeed author page is branded.

This is classic sponsored or branded content. Now let’s look at another example of native advertising, this time a historical one.

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How to Decide Which Content to Sell and What to Give Away for Free

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You are all well aware by now that content is vitally important to your business.

But how do you decide which content should be freely available and which content you ought to charge for?

Is it possible to give away too much?

People struggle with this question all the time.

On the one hand giving away information clearly works. After all, Copyblogger is based on that premise.

That said, we know that selling information is good business.

So where is the line drawn between freely available content and content that is locked behind a paywall of some kind?

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5 Ways to Rankle an Old-School Journalist

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This is the first post in a series on native advertising. An introduction, if you will.

One that states from the start that there is controversy.

Why approach a series this way?

Simple: Native advertising is probably one of the least-known scalding-hot topics in the business world.

In fact, few business people can even define native advertising. And those outside of it are clueless it even exists (we’ve got the data to prove this — will share later).

Yet media research group BIA/Kelsey predicts that by 2017, brands will spend $4.57 billion on social native ads.

$4.57 billion is a lot of money.

How could there be so much enthusiasm and animosity for an ambiguous model?

Two words …

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