It’s predicted that $8.8 billion will be spent on native advertising in 2018, making it one of the most important marketing trends globally.
Due to its non-disruptive approach, native advertising can offer better click-through-rates (CTR), more leads and better online marketing results than traditional advertising.
Below is an infographic, and supporting article, that will tell you everything you need to know to leverage native advertising for your brand.
What is native advertising?
Native advertising can be defined as “a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed”
. In short, native ads are paid advertisements that look like natural content that matches native user experience, is inherently non-disruptive and function exactly like natural content.
Altogether, native advertising has the following criteria:
- It’s paid for;
- It blends in naturally with the platform on which it appears;
- It’s labeled as sponsored content.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau has distinguished six different types of native ads: in-feed units, paid search units, recommendation widgets, promoted listings, in-ad with native element units, and custom content units.
While native ads vary by form, function, and integration, the new model as a whole is growing substantially. Researchers estimate that by 2021 native advertising will reach revenues of almost three-quarters of the U.S. ad market.
Thus, there is no doubt that competitive brands must jump on the native advertising bandwagon as soon as possible.
Why does it work?
Are you still wondering about the effectiveness of native advertising? There’s no need. Statistics show that native ads are doing their job exceptionally:
- 97% of mobile media buyers evaluate native ads as very or somewhat effective at achieving branding goals.
- Native ads have provided an 18% higher lift in purchase intent than banner ads.
- 70% of people say they would rather learn about products through content than traditional ads.
- Compared to display ads, native ads are viewed 53 % more frequently and they provide 60% higher CTR.
- 32% of consumers admit they would share a native ad with their friends and family.
So why does native advertising work so well?
1. It’s targeted
Native advertising is tailored to the audience that reads the specific website or uses the specific app. This creates an opportunity for marketers to narrow their messages for the specific readership.
2. It’s non-disruptive
Let’s be honest, customers despise ads. However, native ads do not disrupt user’s experience on the platform. Rather, they blend in and users don’t perceive them the same way as traditional ads. This leads to a higher trust and interest level.
3. It’s harder to turn a blind eye on native ads
It’s researched that native ads are more engaging than traditional display advertising. In fact, users have learned to ignore banner ads which have led to their decreased popularity over the years. However, native ads are harder to neglect as they blend in with the content of the platform.
4. Native ads can’t be blocked
By the end of 2017, nearly 87 million Americans were expected to use an ad blocker. Native advertising, therefore, is a reader-friendly solution for brands who wish to circumvent ad blockers altogether. As native ads work like regular content, ad blockers can’t detect and block it.
5. It’s easily accessible for brands
More than 75% of US publishers offer native advertising opportunities. That makes it a very accessible form of promotion. There are plenty of opportunities for businesses of any size to advertise on different mediums and reach out beyond the standard social media networks.
The truth is, native advertising isn’t a brand new trend.
Ads that blend into the surrounding content have been around for decades. However, there are some fresh trends in native advertising that your brand should be taking into account.
It’s a well-known fact that nowadays advertisers must create strategies with a mobile-first perspective. This means that mobile native advertising will soon dominate the ad space. In fact, in-app advertising is the way to go since statistics show that only 11% of users go to the mobile versions of sites, while 89% prefer apps. Plus, in-app native ads are viewed 3x more often than the banners on mobile sites.
Virtual reality has a huge potential to boost native advertising. 360-degree video features provide a wide range of opportunities for advertisers to place their ads in a discrete manner. In fact, virtual surroundings can be more persuasive and provide natural solutions for native advertising.
Nowadays, customers are demanding authenticity from brands. One of the best ways to ensure this is by adding user-generated content to your native advertising strategy. According to Ertimur and Gilly (2012), content that is created by users is highly credible and helps to build trust. Moreover, it can take different forms including social media posts, surveys, polls, reviews, etc.
Native video content
Video is one of the fastest growing advertising channels in recent years. Due to the high involvement and engagement indexes, it makes sense to use it for native advertising too. In fact, in comparison to pre-roll advertisements, native video advertisements have proven to generate a greater brand lift amongst users.
How to succeed with your native advertising
While native advertising can seem a little intimidating and tricky at first, there are some good practice tips that will ensure you succeed.
1. Know your audience
First, determine who your target audience is, what problems they are trying to solve, and what type of content they would value. Make sure you use all the data you have to analyze your online audience. An easy and quick way to do it is by using an URL shortener such as Capsulink or Goo.gl to get a comprehensive insight into what topics your audience is most interested in and which platforms they visit the most.
For instance, Taco Bell researched their audience and learned that Snapchat is the best place to reach their customers. Thus, for Cinco de Mayo they decided to create a sponsored Snapchat lens which turned the user’s face into a giant taco shell. The lens quickly became popular and was viewed 224 million times in one day.
2. Generate interest and value
Choose an angle that appeals to your audience. Try your best to combine things your audience would be interested in and the ones a publisher’s audience would be interested in. And ultimately, create something that is valuable for all readers.
A great example of this is how Netflix cooperated with the Wall Street Journal. To promote the show Narcos, they created Cocainenomics – an interactive portal that allows readers to explore the history of the international drug trade and the story behind the Medellin drug cartel. Featuring detailed maps, graphics, photos, a video and a quiz – this publication provided a fascinating story that engaged and captivated the readers.
3. It doesn’t have to be directly about your product
Some of the best native ad examples prove that it doesn’t always have to be about your product or service.
Similar to Netflix, Airbnb chose to create an advertisement that’s not directly about them, but still fulfills the mission that their company represents. In cooperation with the New York Times, Airbnb told a compelling story about Ellis Island and immigration in New York. With the help of narration, maps, and archival photos, the piece provided detailed insights into family histories and showed the legacy of Ellis Island that has welcomed immigrants for centuries. The ad focuses on the idea of hospitality and homebuilding – something that represents Airbnb as a company too.
Image Source: nytimes.com
4. Match the publisher’s editorial standards
While native ads are still paid promotion, don’t let your guard down and create a piece of content that isn’t up to scratch. Just because you’ve paid for the post or article doesn’t mean it can be done poorly. Make sure your copy fits in and has the same tone and voice as the editorial content on the site. Remember, the main goal is for readers to read your native content without detecting differences in quality from other text on the site.
Check out this piece by IBM on The Atlantic. If the text wasn’t be marked as sponsored content, it would be almost impossible to distinguish it from normal content on the website. In this example, IBM has created educational and interesting content that blends with other content on the site and thus seems more appealing and trustworthy to the readers than regular banner ads.
Image Source: theatlantic.com
5. Think outside the box
Ultimately, don’t be afraid to be unique, creative and go beyond a typical advertising strategy. Native advertising provides you with opportunities to go further than your established brand tagline or CTA, so make sure you take them. Keep in mind, this is your chance to create engaging, captivating and brave content for your specific audience.
A great example of a creative native ad is Gatorade’s Snapchat game “Serena Williams’ Match Point”. The game was created to celebrate victory at the 23rd major tennis tournament of Serena Williams’ storied career. The game took users through 22 levels of tennis, one for every Grand Slam singles title the tennis star had won.
Image Source: bandt.com
As consumers increasingly tend to ignore and block banner ads and display advertising, native advertising done well can bring your brand great success.
However, if you want your native ad to be effective, you must capture consumers’ attention, and entertain or inform them. In fact, your content has to be even more compelling than the content in which your ads are embedded.
Since the best native ads are smoothly integrated into the page or app content, they don’t trigger the ad avoidance strategies many consumers have adopted these days. Thus, to stay competitive, you must implement native advertising in your brand’s online strategy as soon as possible.
Guest Author: Alexander Bickov is a Riga-based product designer with over 15 years’ of experience in UX design and digital marketing. Through his work, he aims to connect people and products using strategy, creativity and technology. Alexander has built digital services and products for many different organizations ranging from small startups to large companies. His writing has been featured in the iOS App Store, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Business Insider, Forbes and Big Think. You can find him on Twitterand LinkedIn.