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Do native ads work? Guardian and Unilever to ‘prove value of sponsored content’

Guardian News & Media has launched a new initiative aimed at proving to nervous advertisers that native ads do work, with Unilever the first brand to sign up.


As native ads have grown in popularity, many brands are unsure of the best ways to execute and measure these campaigns.

Publishers and advertisers are battling over whether it should be branding metrics or performance metrics at a time when there is no standardised process in place.

To try and dispel these fears, the Guardian Labs branded content unit has launched, backed by a million pound deal with Unilever’s ‘Project Sunlight’ sustainable living marketing.

Content will include campaigns integrating brand messages with multimedia editorial content, plus other riffs on native advertising, all running on the Guardian website.

Guardian Labs content created for the Unilever partnership will feature in the Guardian's website’s ‘Life & Style’ and link with the brand’s Project Sunlight marketing push around building a world ‘where everyone lives well and lives sustainably’.

The campaign will start in March and will include interactive and cross-media content, along with live events.

"Our partnership with Unilever is a fantastic example of collaboration based on our shared values,” says Guardian Labs md Anna Watkins. “Right from the start we brainstormed ideas, working across the whole of the Guardian, and built the campaign together."

The new unit will operate like an agency at Guardian News & Media, publisher of the Guardian, advertising space online or in the newspaper.

The team of 130 staff at Guardian Labs comprises creatives, strategists, designers, video and content specialists who work with the existing editorial, multimedia, digital development and marketing divisions.

Guardian News & Media and Observer, and work with brands aims to work to create marketing campaigns which go further than buying

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