Business magazine Forbes is aiming to bring journalists and advertisers together on the page through “co-storytelling”, a new approach it claims will need another “mindset change” in the newsroom.
In 2010 Forbes introduced BrandVoice, a system through which companies could publish their own content on the Forbes website.
“That was a big deal,” chief product officer Lewis DVorkin told City AM. “Because everybody said ‘you’re going to ruin journalism or you’re going to ruin Forbes’.
“The editors of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal said they’d do that over their dead bodies. And now they’re all doing it.”
DVorkin said “co-storytelling” was an answer to the failing banner advertising model as both print and digital display advertising has continued to decline.
“You have a topic, and on one page the journalist tells the story along with the marketer telling the story,” he said of “co-storytelling”.
“When you look at native advertising in the New York Times, it takes place over here. And the journalism takes place over there. And they never meet. Ever.
“Now, all of a sudden, they meet: ‘By Lewis DVorkin; by Microsoft.’ That’s a big deal, that’s a very big deal.”
Sponsored content will still have to be labelled as such, however, and DVorkin is aware that currently “no journalist is going to want to see their name on the same page as a marketer”.
DVorkin said Forbes would need to “change the mindset of the newsroom” to make a success of “co-storytelling” but pointed to BrandVoice of an example of how it had achieved this in the past.
“It was a big bet, and everybody at that time said: ‘You just killed your company. It’s going to die. It’s never going to survive.’
“Well, here we are six years later, and not only are we surviving, but we’re prospering and we’re doing new things.”
Forbes claims to have a worldwide circulation of 1.2m with more than 46m monthly online visitors.