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The Real Benefit to ‘Doing A Snowfall’?

Complex Media have created another richly designed, infinite-scroll, immersive multimedia feature (it's getting to the point where we need a defined name for these other than 'doing a snowfall'). I don't know too much about it but it's noteworthy because it looks like it has been created as a commercial solution for Converse (and probably Champs Sports since merchandising and e-commerce links to their site have been integrated throughout).

There have been examples of publishers creating these kind of treatments for advertisers before now, and when the New York Times made The Jockey a while back, they integrated bespoke ad formats into the flow of the feature.

Some have questioned whether these kinds of immersive designs actually lead to more people reading the feature or add to the experience. It's a valid question. I don't have access to the publisher stats on these but I'd say it's like most things – the best examples enhance the richness of the reader experience, poorly executed ones just get in the way. As always when a new curve begins, the versions that come to market down the line will look very little like the early (in hindsight clunky) ones. But the fact that we're seeing so many and so much experimentation in this area would suggest that they're working well enough, and that publishers see them as not just a reader experience opportunity but a commercial one. 

That was borne out this week by the news that the New York Times are developing a full native advertising platform that comprises further integration of (transparently labelled) commercial content within editorial signposting, new storytelling tools to enable more commercial multimedia features of this type, real-time dashboards for advertisers, and a commercial content studio. 

Native advertising formats that fit into the flow or stream of editorial content are naturally mobile friendly (look at Promoted Tweets or Posts) but they are almost a reformation of the old fashioned magazine advertorial. Similarly, whilst branded content is nothing new, these multimedia treatments are enabling publishers to apply their core skills in content creation in new and different ways. Despite the cynicism from some about the New York Times investing in creating multiple treatments of this kind, the interesting thing about what they are doing is that they are experimenting, developing learnings along the way and who knows, perhaps even creating good scalability and repeatability, and a whole new ad platform whilst they're at it. This kind of thing might not be the saviour of publishing or the future of advertising but I think it does create new opportunities and for that reason I'm sure we'll see a lot more of it.

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