What is native advertising, and is it your brand needs to invest in?
Native advertising is a popular form of promotion in a world where customers are becoming increasingly less interested in disruptive ad campaigns. With native advertising, you create ads designed to seamlessly blend with the rest of the content on a page, so consumers may not even realise they’re looking at a promotion.
There’s a good chance you’ve already been exposed to various examples of native advertising in your life – though you might not have been aware of it. Native ads can include everything from promoted posts on Instagram to sponsored Google Search results.
Defining Native Advertising: The Benefits
Native advertising is essentially the art of creating ads so well-blended with the rest of the page content on a search engine, website, or social platform, that your viewer feels the ad belongs there. As consumers become increasingly resistant to disruptive forms of advertising, like banners and display ads, native advertising is becoming more popular.
Native advertising is different from a standard advertorial, placed at the beginning of a YouTube video or embedded into a blog post. The whole purpose of this advertising is to almost disappear into the organic content.
The subtle nature of native advertising makes it an excellent tool for marketing leaders. Because the content in your ad matches the media around it, your customers are less likely to be annoyed and frustrated by it. They’re also more likely to generate a positive response to your brand.
Studies have shown that even when customers know that the native content they’re seeing has been paid for, they’re still more likely to engage with it than using traditional advertising methods. According to Taboola, the market for native ads will reach a value of more than $402 billion globally by 2025.
What do Native Ads Look Like?
A native ad is essentially a chameleon, capable of blending in with the right surroundings. To design an excellent native ad, users need to understand the advertising platform they’re working with. The way you’d create a native ad for a sponsored section on the Google Search result pages, for instance, would be different to the native ads you made for Facebook or Instagram.
The most common forms of native advertising take place in:
- Search: Search engines like Google offer an excellent insight into the potential of native advertising. The sponsored ads at the top of the search results almost look the same as the listings which appear organically. Companies bid for placements in the search engine results using pay-per-click advertising to reach customers searching for specific keywords.
- Social: Social media networks like Instagram and Facebook let us know which content is sponsored. However, they also allow the content to blend in with the rest of the organic content around it, so it’s not too abrasive. Native content on social media can include all kinds of written, visual, and video elements.
- In-feed units: In-feed units are advertising units that appear on a publisher site, like Forbes, Mashable, or various news sites. These paid placements are often defined as “sponsored content” designed to draw attention to a specific brand. For instance, a company selling accounting software could pay to publish an article about the best accounting tools on a well-known industry website.
New forms of custom native advertising are also beginning to appear on different platforms. For instance, Snapchat allows companies to create custom filters to interact with their audience.
The Allbirds shoe company produced one good example of native advertising in recent years. Working with the New York Times, Allbirds referenced their company in an article about the value birds have in our environment with a sponsored tag. Clicking on the title took customers to an Allbirds web page with matching graphics and sound effects.
A matching landing page to accompany the link from the New York Times ad made the connection between the two companies seem more natural.
What Are the Problems with Native Advertising?
Though native advertising can have significant benefits for companies, it has also been met with some controversy in the past. Customers don’t like to feel like companies are being “tricked” by companies. Increasingly, there’s a growing demand for authenticity and honesty in the promotional landscape, and native advertising contrasts this approach.
Native advertising can also be problematic from a compliance perspective. Many regulations require companies to provide clear insights into whether a piece of content is promotional or not. This is why it’s so common for video producers on YouTube to let you know that they’re promoting a sponsor rather than just slipping information about a company into a video.
Similarly, social media channels like Facebook and Instagram and search engines like Google all differentiate between organic and paid content – even if the difference between the two isn’t always noticeable.
How to Use Native Advertising Correctly
Used correctly, native advertising can significantly impact your marketing results. According to Outbrain, consumers pay attention to native ads 53% more than traditional display ads. What’s more, native ads increase purchase intent by around 18%.
Native advertising can help companies combat the issue of ad fatigue in an environment where promotions are constantly bombarding customers from all angles. However, brands need to ensure they’re using their native ads correctly.
Make sure you’re choosing a platform that makes sense based on the kind of audience you’re trying to reach and produce genuine value for the audience. Don’t just try to trick customers into clicking on your ads. Instead, offer real value that makes customers want to connect and interact with you further.