Of all the areas of business, marketing is the one which seems to evolve the most over time. Part of the reason for this might be that businesses feel that they need to keep up with people. The world is ever-changing, and for marketing to be effective, it needs to change with it. If it doesn’t, then it risks losing its momentum and power altogether. Of course, there are a million different ways to advertise anything, and this too is in constant flux. One of the key changes to come about in recent years is the evolution of native advertising. This is a clear example of a marketing trend which has fast become all but essential for any growing business. Chances are, you have heard about native advertising. But what exactly is it, how does it function, and what does it look like?
To put it simply, native advertising is advertising which fits the form and function of its location.
It is sometimes described as advertising in cognito, although it is truest to say that it is actually quite obvious. It is generally considered poor play to pretend that an advert is something else. Yet, native advertising finds a way to get around this and still market its product or service most efficiently. The chances are good that you have yourself experienced native advertising, possibly often without being aware of it. The less aware of it you are, the more effective it is. For native advertising to do its job well, it needs to blend in. The moment it stands out like a sore thumb, something has gone wrong. In these instances, it is a case of returning to the drawing board.
To help further elucidate what native advertising is and how it functions, it might help to look at some of its core goals. Why does it exist, and what is it meant to achieve? Generally, there are two essential core motivations behind native advertising:
It is a means by which to position a brand in the consumer’s mind in a subtle way.
It is designed to encourage the consumer to take a particular action.
For example, click on a certain webpage thanks to a leading headline. As long as either or both of these goals are satisfied, it has done its job well. We will look into how it goes about achieving those goals a little later on.
Before we do that, let’s take a brief look at some of the key advantages or benefits to this kind of advertising. It is only ever growing in popularity, so there must be something to it. What is it that makes it such a worthwhile form of advertising? The fact is, the consumer of today has become extremely savvy in regards to advertising. Marketing is so much a part of the everyday world that people have had to learn some of the tricks. It is so easy to recognise advertising that, often, that advertising loses some of its power.
Native advertising is a real attempt to get past that problem. Add to this the fact that consumers regard the information in adverts skeptically, and you can see the need for this new kind of advertising. Native advertising essentially camouflages the information. In this way, it doesn’t look like advertising at all. This is a way of getting around both of those core issues. This in turn means that there is a higher likelihood of those advertisements being observed in the first place. It also means that the consumer will be more likely to instinctively trust the brand. Ultimately, that is what we are going for when we use native advertising.
Now that we have seen a basic outline of what native advertising is and why it exists, let’s delve a little deeper. Let’s take a look at some of the different kinds of native advertising that you can find out there. At the same time, we will look into some of the best examples of each kind.
One of the major problems with banner advertising is that it all too quickly became far too obvious to be effective. When you have a normal feed ongoing on a webpage, and a banner at the top, it is grossly ineffective. The main reason for this is that the banner itself is far too distinct from everything else on the webpage. As we have seen, consumers have quickly become very savvy to this kind of thing. The truth is, banner advertisements were really not very effective for long. Sponsored feed native advertising rose as a response to and a result of that. So what exactly is it, and what does it look like?
Sponsored feed is exactly what the name suggests. When you have a sponsored tweet on twitter, for example, it shows up with the rest of the tweets. In this way, it looks entirely normal, except for the small ‘Promoted’ button. The idea here is that it will appear on users’ twitter feeds as an ordinary part of the site. It should look, overall, no different from the rest. Automatically, this gives whatever is being said a kind of gravitas, as though it can be trusted. There is likely to be the unconscious assumption that the tweet is from someone that the user is following. In this way, there will also be the assumption that what is being said is true or accurate.
One example of a company which does sponsored feeds particularly well is BuzzFeed. Indeed, their business is practically built on this particular style of native advertising. A great example of their style can be seen in their famously clickbait headlines. Using titles such as ‘13 Things You’ll Miss Most From Your Twenties’, they are able to draw people in more effectively. What’s more, they do it in such a way that they actually draw in a certain type of person. This then means that they can ensure the brand is seen by the recommended target demographic. It is this knack for combining several elements into one which has made BuzzFeed so successful in these ventures.
We have seen how businesses can use sponsored feeds to help draw people in to particular websites or see certain brands. Both of the primary goals of native advertising can easily be satisfied in this way. Often, however, these sponsored feeds are actually just a way to get to the real point. Branded content is, for most businesses, a much more financially lucrative way of achieving similar aims. This is something which is often done in partnership with another company or corporation. As such, the collective power of both can be used to ensure that it has the strongest effect possible. But what is branded content, and how does it compare to sponsored feeds?
You will have seen examples of branded content if you have ever been on websites like BuzzFeed. We looked at BuzzFeed in the previous example, and here too they have a way of showing others up. Using great headlines, they draw people into their website. And once there, they encourage a particular way of looking at a brand through clever use of content and form. Possibly one of the strongest examples of this is ‘15 Things We Did At School That Future Students Will Never Understand’.
This was an article with Intel as the sponsored brand. This is branded content in that it is content which appears to be normal, except it is advertising for a particular brand. In this case, that brand is Intel. The reason that this article works so well is because it flawlessly combines the natural subject matter with the brand. This makes it an excellent example of native advertising. The content of the article itself does not suffer at all, and yet the brand is done a great service too.
From this, we can learn something particularly valuable. Native advertising is best when everyone is kept happy. You want to ensure that the brand is satisfied, of course, otherwise there is little point. But you also need the reader or viewer to feel that they are getting something of real value. Otherwise, the advertisement loses its native appeal. In that case, it just becomes like any other form of advertising. Branded content is great, as it is a little more honest, and yet no less effective, than other forms of native advertising.
Content Distribution Platforms
When you are trying to make native advertising work, there are a few different sides of the matter to consider. One of the most important is that you need to be able to produce a great deal of content. After all, this content is ultimately what it is all about. Without it, there is no way to be able to deliver the required message. Of course, knowing how to do that is something else altogether. But it is possible, and this is where content distribution platforms come in.
A content distribution platform is essentially exactly what is sounds like. It is a means to an end, and the end is spreading your content as far and wide as possible. One of the most popular platforms out there, for obvious reasons is the likes of Outbrain, Taboola Revcontent. The main reason for their notorious reputation is that it has such high-flying connections, yet they are swarmed with click-bait type of headlines that earn themselves bad reputation. If you want to get your content onto the likes of Time and CNN, these content amplification platform provide the cost effective way, but just make sure who you are advertising together. You might not want to associate your brand with a weight-loss products such as below.
Finally, let’s take a look at one more example of great native advertising in action. We are talking about programmatic native, a particularly revolutionary approach to native advertising. This is a little more complex than the previous examples, but it also happens to be considerably more effective much of the time. Essentially, programmatic native arose as a response to a major difficulty facing native advertisers. This difficulty was being able to find a way for native ads to scale properly, regardless of the form or platform they were on. Ultimately, of course, you need these ads to appear natural. This offers a way to make sure that they are much more natural, much more often.
Programmatic native allows advertisers to tailor native ads to fit how people actually read online. Using strong headlines which stand out while people are scrolling from page to page, they can encourage people to click much more often. These in-feed advertisements have been shown to receive three hundred times as much attention. It is clear how effective this approach really can be. Sharethrough and Nativo are two of the biggest key players in this area. Each of them are a clear example of the ways in which programmatic native can more easily encourage a desired action to take place. Ultimately, this allows for more effective native advertisements to be in place. And as we have seen, this often means that marketers can find their jobs to be a lot easier in the long run. With the right native advertising, both consumer and business can really benefit.
In conclusion, as more marketers move beyond banners, Native Advertising will continue to grow. Below is the chart from Business Insider that projected strong growth in Native Advertising. Are you as marketer ready to embrace Native Advertising? Love to hear your thoughts.