Native Advertising – What is it and how can you use it?

Native advertising can be tricky. It can get confused with content marketing but it has some distinct features that make it a completely different animal. To break the term down into some recognizable traits we can look to The IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) who created a Native Advertising Playbook. Here they describe native advertising as:

  • A Directly Paid Opportunity(A brand or individual must pay for the spot to be considered native advertising)
  • Usually Content Based (Provides useful, interesting information that targets their preferred readership but does not promote the company’s product or service directly)
  • Delivered In-Stream (Delivers the content in such a way that the user experience is not disrupted and that does not change the normal behavior of the user in that particular channel)

The purpose of a native ad is to be so tightly woven into the webpage that the user cannot tell it’s an advertisement. Essentially the ad looks like branded content originating from the website. You could see why this type of advertising is attractive to marketers as it allows them to produce somewhat covert content that looks authentic to the user.

Native advertising also allows the brand to offer information that is helpful and similar to the other information on the host site so that the content is engaged with at a higher rate than, say, a banner ad.

Because of these perceived benefits, native advertising has made a huge impact on the online marketing landscape. This influence is documented in Hexagram’s State of Native Advertising report where it states that:

  • 62% of publishers and media companies offer some kind of native advertising program.
  • 66% of brands create their own content for native advertising programs (in most other cases, the publishers assist in creating the content for the brand).
  • The most popular forms of native advertising are sponsored blog posts (65%), sponsored articles (63%) and Facebook sponsored updates (56%).

The reason why native advertising is particularly attractive to marketers is due to its ability to create a shared sense of credibility. The social media platform or website that you publish your native advertising on can transfer the positive associations a consumer has with that brand to yours. That trust and brand awareness can go a long way in terms of broadening your consumer base.

As far as the effectiveness of native advertising, multiple sources have reported on its superior ability to gain eyes and ears:

  • Native ads are viewed 53% more than banner ads. (Dedicated Media)
  • Users who are retargeted to are 70% more likely to convert. (Digital Information)
  • Native ads that are media rich boost conversion rates by up to 60%. (Social Times)

To understand exactly how your brand or business would utilize native advertising you must get inside the mindset of your target audience and think about what relevant content looks like to them.

Look at how bigger brands use the platform with regard to sponsored videos and content. Watch and learn from other companies and choose the best ways to integrate your ads into the best possible platform.

Most importantly you must remember that native advertising is not a press release. Instead, you should be talking about the feeling associated with your brand and how it relates back to you target audience. Sticking to positive, well humored and balanced content will produce the highest yield of engagement.