When was the last time you clicked on a pop-up ad?
It’s probably been a while, if ever. Advertisements that scream “I’m an advertisement!” aren’t likely to be interacted with unless there’s an obvious incentive.
And even if that obvious incentive is a cruise around the world, most of us know better.
Native advertising 101
Native advertisements are just like really good veggie burgers: they look like normal content, you consume them like you would consume normal content, and if the advertiser has done an exceptional job, it might taste like normal content too.
You’d never know that the native advertisement you’re looking at wasn’t a hamburger.
Compliments to the chef.
What are native advertisements?
Native advertisements are a type of paid advertising that provides valuable information to a user on a third-party website without disrupting the natural flow of the surrounding content.
Under the umbrella of contextual advertising, native advertising fits in with the other content on the page. It fits in so well, in fact, that it’s hard to decipher what’s an ad and what isn’t.
Ads are everywhere, all the time. Unless they’re unbelievably well designed, they’re usually annoying, irrelevant, and in the way. Native advertising works because it takes a completely different tack that traditional advertising.
Instead of trying to catch your attention, it uses a reverse psychology-esque approach so that viewers don’t even know it’s there.
While this may not seem like something that would be effective, it is. Native ads receive 53% more views than traditional display ads online.
What native advertising looks like
Sometimes, it’s easier to answer what something isn’t like.
Here’s a few banner ads. They're loud, they're colorful, and they interrupt your experience.
Native advertisements are the opposite. They fit right in with the rest of the content on the page.
Source: Vanity Fair
They’re subtle and sneaky, which has actually caused quite a bit of a debate in regards to how ethical native advertising really is.
The great native advertising debate
There are two sides to this debate (as there are in most debates).
The first side, pro-native advertisements, says that native advertisements are clearly labeled with words such as “Sponsored”, “Advertisement” or “Promoted” near the advertisement to alert viewers that the content is different than normal.
Native advertising is also an all-around great situation for all of those involved: users get content full of information, third-party hosts get revenue, and brands get exposure.
The anti-native advertising side of this argument says that those labels that say “Sponsored”, “Promoted”, or “Advertisement” are easy for readers to miss. The labels are getting smaller and more transparent, making them more difficult to spot and could be deceiving.
Second, having to buy space for content that could have been displayed organically like it is in content marketing isn’t a good look for publishers.
There’s no right answer as to whether native advertising is completely innocent or not, but there is a blurred line that can easily be crossed.
How to make your native advertising successful
Just about anybody can throw together a graphic and buy a sliver of space on a webpage. Native advertising isn’t so simple; it takes time, effort, and strategy, which is why some advertisers may shy away from it. There’s nothing wrong with taking the time to sit down and create something memorable. That’s the point of advertising, isn’t it?
Step 1: Creation
Just like you would with any other type of advertisement, consider who your target audience is so that the content you create is catered towards the right person.
Have a brainstorming session with your creative team and take the time to plan out how you can make your content as valuable as possible. Does your audience have the time to read an entire article, or would an infographic or video work better?
TIP: Stay current. Nobody is going to read an article about trends from 2017. Use social media platforms to keep yourself up-to-date on what’s popular, and curate content around that.
Step 2: Location
Once the content is created, another important part of the strategy is focusing on the placement of the content itself. Where will your audience be reading or seeing your native ads?
Social media may seem like the obvious choice, here. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s cheap. Because it’s all of those things, it’s also extremely popular, meaning that you’ll be competing with everyone who has the same mindset as you. And that’s a lot of people.
Another popular option for placement is using native advertising software to help make the decision for you. Instead of placing ads on social media with the rest of the clutter, native advertising software can help you buy space that is formatted similarly to the content of the website.
Native advertising isn’t typically measured by typical metrics like coupon uses or the amount of phone calls a company receives from the provided phone number.
Instead, it can be measured by:
Social media shares
Average session duration
Native advertising doesn’t always provide immediate measurement results in terms of sales, but it’s often a touchpoint in the process (which can also be a measurement for advertisers to use).
Form follows function
Remember, native advertising doesn’t exist so that you, the advertiser, can trick innocent readers into reading your content. After all, measuring the success in that would be a little tough. Native advertising is powerful and that power should be used for good. Make sure that your readers know that your content is an advertisement, and let them make the decision based on that. Transparency is key.
Daniella Alscher is a Brand Designer for G2. When she's not reading or writing, she's spending time with her dog, watching a true crime documentary on Netflix, or trying to learn something completely new. (she/her/hers)