July 18, 2017
Many people do not even recognize native content when they see it.
Haven’t heard of native advertising? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people confuse native advertising with content advertising. They both offer valuable or interesting content to the reader in hopes that they will take an action such as opting in to a list, picking up the phone, or clicking a link. The main difference is that native advertising blends into the platform it is created for and it is usually paid for, whereas content marketing is not.
What does native advertising look like?
Native advertising refers to ads that match the form and function of the publication or platform it appears upon. If the platform is the website of a magazine or newspaper, for example, the native ad will look like just another article. There may be a small note stating that it’s an ad, but many readers will not notice this, and those who do may not care if the content is worthwhile. Native ads can also appear on blogs and in social media that are published or maintained by third parties who generally have some degree of perceived independence or objectivity. This approach improves conversions and builds consumer trust because you are offering value first, and promoting your company a distant second.
How can native ads help your business?
The modern-day customer is very good at ignoring advertisements and can get quite irritated with a brand or business if all the messages they see from them are highly promotional, “salesy” ads that offer no value. Using native advertising blurs the distinction between useful content and promotion.
When native advertising is done correctly, the user experience is not disrupted and the ad does not change the way the reader uses the channel. Their defenses remain low, giving your brand a better opportunity to build a relationship based on the provision of real value that could lead to future business. If your content is really compelling, it will improve sharing and engagement, thus reaching more potential customers through organic reach.
Native advertising appears in a several different contexts, including:
Large websites like Buzzfeed will share articles that are paid for by a brand or business. These articles are entertaining or educational, while at the same time they subtly promote a brand or product. You can tell if the content is paid for because somewhere on it will be the words “sponsored,” “promoted,” or something similar.
Many news and magazine websites have “recommended links” below each article. Most of those links are related to the page’s main article in some way, and some of them are paid for. When you click on the article it will have the same look and feel as the site’s other in-house content, but if you read carefully you will find a mention of a product, business, or website clearly and closely related to the article’s topic.
For example, if you sell pet supplies, you might run a native ad in the form of an article titled “Puppy Training 101.” In it, you could discuss multiple products such as dog treats, collars, and leashes, all within the context of the article’s main topic. The products mentioned would be linked to those products on your site, but not otherwise promoted. Products could also be used in photos or videos demonstrating puppy training, but the focus must be squarely on the training, not the products. The trainer in the video might “just happen” to be using a certain kind of dog treat. This could pique the interest of the viewer and entice them to click on a link to learn more.
Some companies with popular Facebook pages sell native ad space. Your content will appear as if it was posted by the page owner, but it will perform like other native ads, providing useful, amusing, or interesting content and containing a subtle promotional message and link to your page or website in a logical, helpful context.
To make this work you want your ad to replicate the kind of content that normally gets good engagement on that page. Does the page’s audience like entertaining articles? Quizzes? Funny memes? Videos? Pick a method that resonates with them and create your ad accordingly.