Streetwise Media: Native Ads Go Hand in Hand with Local B2B Content

Local B2B news sites always make sense to us. But they have largely been an exercise in frustration, with a lot of money being thrown at them to build local journalism and sales teams. Back in the late 1990s, sites such as Localbusiness.com ran through millions of dollars in an effort to quickly launch and dominate the space.

New players have come out in recent years with business models incorporating native advertising –content-oriented advertising that contextually fits with other content. One of them is Advance Publications’ Streetwise Media.

Initially launched as an entrepreneurial local Boston site named Boston Innovation (now BostInno), the founders have honed the model — including specialized news index technology that can automatically track news releases — and are now in several markets, including Boston, Washington DC and soon, Chicago. More markets are likely to come on board in the near future. Advance bought the company in 2012 and kept the team intact, seeing clear business synergies with its more traditional Business Journals, which are in 40 markets.

CEO and co founder Chase Garbarino tells us his rollout model is to enter a market and focus on the startup community and entrepreneurship. “Once we get an audience foothold, our publications develop,” he says.

Each city varies in terms of its editorial focus. “In DC, we have four full-time writers focused on advocacy, innovation and things like that,” he says. “In Boston, we’ve had a ton of success with the college vertical.” Advertisers have come to realize they need to do more with content marketing, he adds.

Streewise has an internal team that focuses on the native advertising sales, while BizJournals sells most of the company’s traditional display ads. The key, says Garbarino, is that the native advertising format enables the company to guarantee and sell engagement.

“It is not just impressions,” hew says. “We can sell a half million impressions and guarantee one percent engagement; share content on LinkedIn and Twitter; and comment on it. It is not just used on the home page.”

The site’s technology also enables targeting around specific audiences. A campaign for Bentley Business School, for instance, focused on the value of having an MBA and was targeted to 20-somethings. The company does especially well with corporate workers and young working pros. While many B2B sites are focused on automation as a way to make them economical, Garbarino says that just won’t work. “The key to the model is having a local presence. You can’t do community and local news without being part of the community.”

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