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Credit: By Benson Kua on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Mainstream media can use their "storytelling" expertise, and trusted brand, to discover opportunities in native advertising, but should remain focused on their site's identity, delegates at Digital Media Strategies were told today.

The subject of native advertising has been a hot topic in the news industry. Just last year, for example, AOL and Huffington Post, drew up 'guidelines' on the subject, highlighting the importance of "clear signposting".

And at the Digital Media Strategies conference today, news outlets were advised not just best practice, but also what existing expertise media outlets can draw on to deliver an effective solution for advertisers, and readers.

Raju Narisetti, vice president for strategy at News Corporation, said that mainstream media outlets, "have an opportunity to leverage our core strength, which is storytelling, in helping brands connect much better with consumers".

As well as storytelling expertise, Narisetti pointed to mainstream media's experience in "running 24/7 newsrooms" as an additional "strength" when it comes to working with "brands wanting to engage in conversation in real-time".

Will Hayward, vice president of advertising for BuzzFeed, also shared some pointers on how best to approach native advertising as a media outlet.

To start with, newsrooms need to "start thinking about why people would share the content you create", he said, adding that this should be applied to both editorial and when approaching native advertising, or sponsored content.

What is important, he said, is to consider the existing "context" of the site, and what factors, in terms of its editorial approach, are key in terms of driving people to the site in the first place.

Then the trick is to create native advertising, or sponsored content, which continues to appeal to that.

He used the example of native advertising on MTV for Lucozade, highlighting that while it is labeled with the Lucozade logo, its strength is that without the logo, "you could imagine it living on the MTV site".

In another example, he pointed to the Economist Intelligence Unit's creation of a game with Chevron called EnergyVille, which, as the game explains, "allows players to control the energy mix of a virtual city and to discover the economic, environmental and security impacts of their decisions".

The power of this was, again, he said, that "if you took the Chevron logo off, people would still be using it".

Summing up, he said media outlets need to focus both editorial and commercial efforts on producing "great content people want to share".

And he added that the "biggest competitive differentiator is a better understanding of your audience".

Use this to "deliver relevant content" to your readers, he said.

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