The digital age has every brand fighting tooth and nail over consumer attention.
In this realm, content remains the ruler of all kingdoms and the end of its reign is nowhere near. And while it remains the lifeline of every online channel, it has become increasingly difficult to gain traction as users become smarter and more meticulous with how they consume content.
But if there’s one content type that is seemingly winning people’s hearts, it’s native advertising.
What is Native Advertising?
Native advertising is a type of paid content structured in a way that is aligned with the platform it is displayed on.
It is content designed to be more informative and conversational than a hard sell; and takes the style, form, and branding of whatever digital channel it is on.
Creating content in a format that a consumer expects when they are on a specific platform can help increase click-through-rates, reduce bounce rates, and turn occasional consumers to lifelong customers.
Does Native Advertising Work?
The simple and straightforward answer is yes.
It should not come as a surprise given that this particular ad format is tailored to fit the user’s experience.
Add that to the fact that search engines like Google are finding native advertising more useful than disruptive, and you’ve got yourself a cost-effective way to market your brand.
If you need a little more convincing on why you should focus your online efforts on this advertising strategy, here are a few statistics and trends:
- According to eMarketer, native advertising spend this year is expected to reach $52.75 billion which is more than half (64.8%) of all digital display ad spend in the United States.
- By 2021, revenue generation from native advertising is predicted to increase by 46%.
- 70% of consumers have said that they prefer to learn more about a product or service through content than the traditional digital ads.
- 61% of marketers identify native advertising as their initial motivation for opportunities.
- Click-through-rate for native display ads are 8.8 times higher than typical display ads.
- Native ads experience a 9% higher brand affinity lift and 18% purchase intent lift compared to display ads.
3 Most Effective Types of Native Ads
While native advertising was originated by Google through what is now known as search engine marketing, the general idea has evolved with technology and branched out into varieties.
To help you better assess what would work for you, here is a quick rundown of the three most common types of Native Advertising:
Sponsored Content is probably the most common and recognised type of native ads – where paid content is designed to emulate the overall feel and style of the in-house editorial content.
When done right, sponsored content provides useful information for a specific target market but with a subtle promotional intent that is not a hard sell and, often, unnoticeable.
Here are a few examples of sponsored content:
- H&M’s Recycling Your Fashion for a Better Future on impactingourfuture.com
- Nest’s The Rise of the Connected Family on theatlantic.com
Another popular type of native advertising comes in the form of Content Recommendations.
These are outbound links that are usually placed on the bottom of a web page designed to blend seamlessly with how the experience is laid out on the platform.
Recommended content is commonly based on a user’s search behaviour or the content a user is currently reading. This is a great way to help draw extra traffic to your site’s content.
In-Feed Social Ads
Native advertising on social media has been around for quite some time and remains to be one of the most effective channels to reach your market.
There’s enough internet data and statistics to back up why it’s crucial for brands to stay active on social media, so running native advertising on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin is a surefire way to generate content traffic and bring potential clients deeper into the sales funnel.
Why Invest in Native Advertising?
The main reason native advertising continues to rise in popularity is that in comparison to traditional digital ads, native ads are much less intrusive and more audience-oriented than sales-focused.
This makes it the perfect strategy to use on social media platforms where users are more focused on consuming relevant content. In fact, based on a research done by Online Publishers Association (OPA):
- 53% of people surveyed said that they find native ads more attractive than traditional types of advertising given that it’s useful and appropriate in the particular environment it is placed on.
- 52% of the people also mentioned that they are more willing to buy a product or service promoted through a native ad.
In addition to the tested and proven results of native advertising’s appeal to the online masses, here are five other benefits of this ad type:
- Since native advertising is better received by the market compared to other display formats, it is more likely to go viral on social media and get a wider reach.
- Consumers are more inclined to consume the content if it doesn’t feel like an advertisement.
- Native ads usually come in the form of a relevant content which consumers find more engaging and personal.
With all the advantages that come with native advertising, it is no surprise that it has become an integral part of every Social Media Best Practices guidelines.
How Do I Run Native Advertising Right?
Since social media is a platform preferred by both brands and consumers in terms of native advertising, it is important not just to invest in it, but to know the right way to execute it. Here’s how:
#1. Define Your Objective
The basics of an effective branded content such as native ads start with knowing and defining your campaign goal.
Are you looking to generate leads? Boost brand awareness? Expand market reach? Increase web traffic? Improve online sales? By setting definitive goals, you can better strategise what sort of content you want to publish.
#2. Apply the Principles of Organic Reach
While native advertising is a type of paid strategy, there are still factors you can get from organic tactics that could give it a boost:
- Understand your market: In order to know what sort of content they are more likely to engage with (use a customer avatar).
- Make content relevant and timely: Create content designed for every stage of the buyer’s journey.
- Use the right social media tools: There are a lot of free resources you can use to run native ad campaigns such as Facebook’s Ad Manager as well as Linkedin’s Business Tool.
- Identify the appropriate platforms: If your audience is more active on Linkedin, then Facebook might not be the best channel to invest in. This is also part of understanding your market.
- Get the copy and creatives right: Beside content, design also plays a big role on how effective your ads will be, so make sure your ad copies are well thought out and your media assets follow the updated social media size and resolution guideline.
#3. Focus on Quality and Shareable Content
Great content is the foundation of native advertising and what makes it great is simple – it provides value.
The reason native ads work so well with any audience is because it puts a spotlight on topics that are either useful, relatable, entertaining, interesting, and hyper-targeted.
#4. Dive into Influencer Marketing
Collaborating with an influencer is another effective way to do native advertising.The power of influencers lies in the deep connections they have with their loyal fan base.Click To Tweet
With this type of marketing, you are banking on the trust and relationship between influencers and their followers.
If an influencer is using a specific product in their content, there’s a chance their fans will also consider using said product.
#5. Approach it Mobile-First
This year, mobile digital advertising is expected to increase by 26.5%.
It’s no secret that going mobile is an essential step for brands looking to grow their business. In fact, both social media and SEO proposals alike commonly put emphasis on the importance of a mobile-first approach.
From building your website to publishing social content fit for smaller screens, taking a mobile-first approach is essential to native advertising success.
#6. Invest in High-Quality Videos
In the online world, video content has proven itself to be more engaging.
In fact, native video content published on Facebook has shown to reach double the number of people versus YouTube content posted on the same social media site.
Just with any other content type, native video ads should also focus on topics that are more informational, interesting, and entertaining; so steer away from video content that is sales-oriented and product-centric.
Examples of Brands Who’ve Mastered the Art of Native Advertising
Under Armour and Complex
The sports apparel brand partnered up with New York-based media platform Complex in launching a story profile of swimmer Michael Phelps’ daily routine and preparation for the Olympics.
It’s a great native ad that is able to gel together what both brands stand for without the article having to mention both business names. It’s not a blatant, hard sell ad, and instead aims to inspire its readers.
Netflix and The New York Times
When Netflix was about to release the second season of its hit original series “Orange is the New Black,” the brand collaborated with The New York Times.
The daily newspaper published an article titled, “Women Inmates: Why the Male Model Doesn’t Work” which talks about the need to create more programs and policies targeted to female inmates.
Microsoft and Facebook
Microsoft published a native video showing the diversity of people using its new game controller.
It was posted as a Facebook native video and makes use of real people in real situations. The video has been shared over 40,000 times, reaching far beyond the brand’s fan base.
Home Depot and Apartment Therapy
Home Depot took a multimedia approach when it launched a sponsored campaign on home design website Apartment Therapy.
The native ad features interactive content through videos and links designed to make home upgrade and shopping in Home Depot an engaging and memorable experience.
Mercedes and Washington Post
With relevant content playing a big role in native advertising, Mercedes knew exactly how to roll out a perfectly balanced ad.
In a campaign called “The Rise of the Superhuman,” the auto brand presented various innovations that turn humans into superhumans such as robotic suits, virtual reality, and their intelligent drive system. While it mentions the brand directly, they were able to make it sound natural and soft sell.
With data being a testament to how effective native advertising is, it’s high time you consider it as you plan the next quarter’s marketing budget.
If you know enough about your market, then you are already halfway there because you have the ability to determine the right content to publish and on what platform.
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