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You may have heard this term mentioned around your office, it’s becoming increasingly popular among both agencies and brands, but what does Native Advertising actually mean? And before you explore this marketing option, what do you need to know? Let’s take a look at the all-important questions.
To put it simply, Native Advertising is a fancy sounding term for adverts that resemble the content on the platform that they’re hosted. However, as with most terms in this industry, it’s more complicated than it sounds.
To help you cut through the chatter and fully understand what you’re up against, we’ve laid out the answers to 10 common questions you’re likely to be asked about this exciting digital advertising method:
Let’s start with the broadest question.
Probably the most frustrating aspect of Native Advertising is that no one’s quite sure how to properly define it. Head to Wikipedia (the Internet’s favourite resource), and you’ll find a long-winded explanation regarding the methodology behind the format, but no singular, clear definition of what it actually is.
If you want to excel at something, it’s first vital that you understand exactly what it entails, so let’s turn to the professionals and see what they have to say.
In the recent #StateOfNativeAdvertising2014 survey (world’s longest hashtag), over half the people asked believed Native Advertising to be sponsored content. 25% said that it was microsites, whilst almost 40% of those asked said it was some form of branded company page.
Whilst at first glance that may look like they’re unsure as well, closer inspection (and further research) unveils a common theme, contextual content, or content which advertises to the user whilst matching the surroundings, and themes, of the place on which it’s positioned.
TL;DR: Native Advertising is a contextual marketing technique which matches the format of wherever it is placed.
Despite being a popular buzzword within the Digital Marketing industry at the moment, Native Advertising has actually been around for decades under many different guises. It’s only now, with the birth of the digital age, that we’ve started labelling it as such.
Whenever you read through a magazine, and come across an advertorial article, written and design very similarly to all the other content within the mag, that’s Native Advertising!
Snapshot from Outbrain
Although the methodology behind native ads has been around for years, the platforms it’s now being used on are relatively new.
The shift from spend in print advertising to digital has equipped this technique with an entirely new tool belt, so to speak. Native Advertising is now achievable in a huge range of different formats, across a number of different platforms.
These formats include blog posts, videos, images, games, social posts and search terms to name just a few. These can be carried out on closed platforms, such as Facebook and Buzzfeed, or open platforms, like Outbrain and Taboola. Open platforms take the content and share it across multiple different sites, targeting users that may be interested in such ads.
Although it may sound pretty sneaky, placing adverts that appear to be normal content is not as deceptive as it sounds, if said content is produced well, and relevant to the user’s needs.
The whole point is that they fit in with the context of their surroundings. Ensure your content is targeted to the right sites and the right audience. When using platforms like Taboola and Outbrain, it’s more difficult to specify the sites, however the site chosen by these platforms is determined algorithmically (based on how successful it was on that site). For example, if you’ve created content specifically for the automotive industry, the content will perform far better on those industry specific sites – as such it will stay on those selected sites until your budget runs out.
It’s also important to be as transparent as possible. Just like Google clearly highlights those paid adverts at the top of its SERPs, most places will tell you if the content is paid or sponsored.
Because it is gone digital, Native Advertising has now become completely measurable. You can choose to measure its breadth, looking at the levels of traffic it’s bringing to your site, or look at its actual impact, tracking engagement, shares etc. It’s advisable to consider both in order to successfully gauge the success of your content.
The Online Publishers Association have produced a great study on how the top marketers are measuring their content, and their opinions on this “hot ad category” (to quote AdAge). It states that the majority of the companies asked are utilising common content metrics, such as time spent and engagement, to keep track of their advertising efforts. You can read the report for yourself here.
Yes! As mentioned above, having access to both open and closed platforms allow you to share seemingly individual content across the web. Paid adverts and sponsored content on social media and blog networks allow your content to be seen by a wide audience of users who may not have previously come across it.
What does Native Advertising and taking a selfie have in common? Everybody’s doing it! Even the brands that you think wouldn’t work in some instances are managing to muscle in and create quality adverts.
You can find a whole host of great and not so great examples with a simple Google search, but one particularly standout case is Buzzfeed. A simple visit to their Home page will reveal not one, not two, but three sponsored posts ‘above the fold’:
None of these posts contain content you’d directly associate with their respective brands, but each of them fit in perfectly well with Buzzfeed’s style.
This is mostly because Buzzfeed works closely with brands to ensure that the content they create looks and feels like standard editorial content – a process that practically guarantees high shareability.
It really does. But, just in case you’re not sold, I’m going to fire off some statistics to help back up my point:
Design is just as important as content quality when it comes to making Native Adverts that actually work.
Many developers and publishers will work closely with your team to ensure that the finished product works perfectly in context of the platform or medium that it’s published on.
For more advice on what Native Advertising can do for your business, contact Koozai today. Our experienced Digital Marketing team will analyse your company’s online strategy and provide the best possible solution for your business.
Have any more questions regarding Native Advertising? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
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