4 Things You Need to Know About Native Advertising
by Amy Alexander
How much do you know about native advertising? If you’ve been hearing about it, but aren’t sure what it is or how to use it in your marketing, read up here.
1. Native advertising is nothing new.
While native advertising has been getting a lot of attention lately, it’s actually existed in one form or another since the early 1900s. Big brands would purchase full-page placements (called “advertorials”) in popular print magazines, designing their ads to mimic the content of the surrounding pages.
As new forms of communication emerged (radio, television, online, etc.), this same practice was adapted as brands sought to promote their goods and services in a contextually relevant manner.
This is the essence of native advertising; it’s designed to provide a non-interruptive marketing message that blends seamlessly into its environment, creating a fluid user experience that doesn’t seem intrusive or overbearing.
2. Native advertising comes in many different formats.
One of the reasons it can be difficult to nail down an exact definition of native advertising is that there are just so many different types of native ads found online. Here are five types commonly found in online media:
- In-Feed: Examples include a sponsored placement within a regular content feed, such as sponsored posts within Facebook’s News Feed, Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, sponsored stories within Yahoo’s news timeline, etc.
- Paid Search: Paid ads at the top of search engine results pages, whether it’s Google, Yahoo, Bing, or Ask, designed to mimic the look of the organic search results.
- Recommendation Widgets: Found at the bottom of pages from popular online magazines such as Mashable, Buzzfeed, TechCrunch, etc., the section in which the native ads are contained blends in well with the surrounding page elements, and it usually features a title such as “Recommended for You,” “You May Also Like,” or “From Around the Web.”
- Promoted Listings: Often seen on pages of online shopping sites such as eBay, Amazon, or Etsy sprinkled in with organic product listings, and typically only distinguishable by a small line of text stating they’re sponsored or paid placements. Pinterest also frequently displays promoted listings (called “Promoted Pins”) within their bevy of regular pins.
- In-Ad with Native Element: Google AdSense ads are a perfect example of this format. They’re ads that are contextually relevant to the content on the page in which they appear.
3. Native ads are designed to blend in, but not to be deceptive.
Nobody appreciates being misled. Native ads, while designed to blend well into the surrounding content, are clearly marked as advertisements to avoid confusion and breach of trust with the target audience.
4. Native ads show significant promise.
Scores of case studies indicate a strong user response to native advertising. Facebook has reported significantly higher click-through rates with Sponsored Stories versus regular ad placements, and in the same vein, Twitter’s Promoted Tweets have generated click-through rates of anywhere between 1% to 3%, a substantial increase over the average banner click-through rate of only 0.04%.
In addition, according to a recent article published by AdWeek, 46% of brands polled feel native advertising has been effective in meeting their marketing objectives. Since native ads focus more on in-depth, product-relevant content versus a simple image or a catchy one-liner, they tend to resonate better with their target audience.
Remember that no matter how sophisticated these new ad formats get, you’re still dealing with real people on the other end of your marketing message. This means that native ads must be used responsibly in order for your brand to maintain its credibility.