A quiet revolution is underway and you probably don’t know about it. Online advertising is dead as we know it. Almost no one clicks on annoying website banner ads – the click through rate is abysmally low. 10% of consumers go so far as to virtually erase online ads using some form of online ad blocker, like Ad-Aware. So what’s a marketer to do in 2015? How do you get an ad-wary audience to click on your brand content? Enter native advertising.
What is native advertising
Native advertising, like advertising, is paid content. Articles, infographics, videos, any digital content can be made into native advertising. What makes it different from a regular advert is that is is difficult to spot. It is designed to blend in with the regular content typically found in the publication. Often it isn’t even marked with the telltale ‘sponsored content’ banner. There are no standards or guidelines for publishers in labeling native ads.
Native adverts align with a site’s established editorial style and voice, and provides the kind of content that the site’s audience typically expects. It doesn’t look out of place on the site.
Native advertising gets results
Native ads are getting much love right now, because the click-through rates are much higher than typical advertisements with much stronger engagement.
“We just dipped our toe into the water this year, but I would say we’ll see a five- to 10-times increase over what we spent this year,” said Matt Eaves, VP-engagement at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
This is true of almost all brands today. A simple Google search for native advertising shows that spending on native advertising is increasing exponentially as brands and businesses look for effective ways to build brand awareness and loyalty.
“Traditional digital advertising has become wallpaper,” said Jason Hill, GE’s global head of media strategy recently. “It doesn’t improve anyone’s experience on a site and readers, myself included, pretty much look past it.”
Native advertising is breaking long-held taboos. For instance, Forbes put a native ad for Fidelity on the cover of its magazine, which is traditionally considered editorial space for magazines. Fidelity reportedly paid $1 million for the ad which included two pages inside the magazine. Read more…
Examples of great native ads
When done well, the ads are very effective and while they may not fit the notion of ‘going viral’, they are very engaging.
Levi’s on Instagram:
Levi posted pics of people wearing Levi’s in outdoor settings. The
photos looked like typical Instagram photos that friends post, but were in fact adverts. The public’s response was excellent. Read more…
Universal Studios on Tumblr:
Universal released an animated GIF of one of the minions with just a link to download the image to promote the movie DespicableMe 2. In just 24 hours, it was the most liked and reblogged Tumblr ad of 2013. Read more…
And one notable native ad fail
Native ads don’t always work as planned. When the ads don’t blend in with their surroundings, results can be disastrous.
Church of Scientology on The Atlantic:
A story on Scientology’s success fell flat on this thought-leader site—readers clearly felt the article/advert didn’t meet the standards of the site and howled with outrage. It was offline within hours. Read more…
What’s a brand to do?
Done well, native ads can be interesting, informative and build a brand or sell a product. Natives ads are also becoming more important as readers increasingly use toward mobile devices, where traditional advertising is even less effective.
Small to medium sized businesses are behind the curve when it comes to this medium of advertising, but with a little bit of work on their part, they too can reap the rewards. Small to medium sized businesses should use promoted posts on Twitter and Facebook or content discovery platforms like Outbrain and Taboola to increase the reach and the value of their content marketing.