Nick Westergaard

By Nick Westergaard on June 27, 2016

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Understanding Native Advertising and Content with Melanie Deziel

melanie deziel on brand

What sets apart good branded content? “Strategic tools, storytelling, and understanding your objectives.” Melanie Deziel helps brands and publishers better understand the shared goals and potential wins that are possible through native advertising. She’s worked with The New York Times, Time, Inc, Netflix, and more to do just that. We discussed all of this including her upcoming talk at Social Brand Forum 2016 on this week’s On Brand podcast. 

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About Melanie Deziel

Melanie Deziel is an award-winning branded content strategist and consultant, and the founder of  The Overlap League, the native ad newsletter. She is a board member of the Native Advertising Institute, has served as an executive judge for the Digiday Content Marketing Awards, and travels the country educating marketing, sales and editorial teams on branded content strategy. Melanie is the former Director of Creative Strategy for Time Inc., where she led ideation for sponsored content programs across 35+ publications, and was the first editor of branded content at The New York Times, where she conceived and wrote in-depth pieces sponsored by advertisers, including the “Women Inmates” piece created in partnership with Netflix and Orange Is The New Black and the “Grit & Grace” feature on The New York City Ballet presented by Cole Haan, which earned the OMMA for Best Native Advertising Execution in 2014 and 2015 respectively. You can find Melanie on Twitter and elsewhere as @mdeziel.

Episode Highlights

Which label is Melanie’s favorite? What she does is referred to as a lot of different things — branded content, sponsored content, advertiser supported content. Which one is Melanie’s preferred descriptor? “I like native advertising because it’s native to the context it’s in. A person or plant is native to it’s place.”

You can’t just create content for the sake of content. “No one’s coming to your blog because it’s Wednesday. They’re coming because your content is great. Start by asking yourself what value you’re adding” by creating your content.

Do you have a PRE-strategy? In taking your content from good to great, Melanie encourages marketers to create a PRE-strategy. Yes, it comes before the rest of your strategy but it’s also an acronym. “It stands for Product, Role, and the Emotions Evoked” by you brand. You need to consider all of this in determining what kind of content you create.

Is native advertising only for big brands and big publishers? Melanie was quick to dispel this myth. “I’ve seen local papers — college newspapers — partner with a local running shoe company to sponsor a map of the local running trails.”

What brand has made Melanie smile recently? “QLP — Quality Logo Products.” Melanie loves the branded products company for their “little moments of delight” they create on their product pages and notifications.

To learn more, go to mdeziel.com or follow Melanie on Twitter. You can also sign up for her useful newsletter we discussed during the show, The Overlap League.

As We Wrap …

Before we go, I want to flip the microphone around to our community …
This past week Victoria Taylor gave us a shoutout for the our recent episode featuring Brian Fanzo. Thanks for listening, Victoria!

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!




Nick Westergaard
Email Brand Driven Digital

is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, where he helps build better brands online. He also teaches at the University of Iowa and is host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.


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