What is native advertising?

Posted by David Murton on Tue, Sep 02, 2014 @ 05:50 AM

Online, the success of any advertising initiative depends heavily on how it will speak to the active interests of online users.

For the most part, ad types that are mere adaptions of traditional ads tend to have a lessened affect on people who surf the internet. Research has shown that banner ads, for example, are often ignored, with users automatically blocking them out their view when scrolling through a web page.

Conversely, content is what drives online engagement - with viral, high-quality content being the ideal benchmark for most websites. This is where native advertising comes in.

An example of native advertising as used on The Age


Native advertising

When talking about native advertising, the "native" part simply refers to the fact that the advertisement being included on the site has a look and feel that fits in with the native look and feel or the website itself. So where a banner ad sticks out, native advertising blends in and feels more natural.

However, this is not the entirety of what native adverising is, either. Native advertising is content. It is essentially an article (news article, "how to" guide, list, etc.) that is posted to a website like any other article, only this specific article has been written by a brand and is ultimately a promotional tool.

The perk of native advertising is that because it fits within the style (visually and tone-wise) of the website at hand, users are more likely to read the content and, effectively, engage with your brand. While arguments do exist as to whether or not native advertising is a good thing in terms of how it impacts on a website's own integrity, it is worth noting that all native advertising still needs to be clearly marked as such. It may be more subtle than a flashing banner ad, but a native ad is still noted as being written (or presented) by a certain brand or business.


Important points to remember with native advertising

If you're considering investing in a native ad on a certain website, you first need to be aware that what you write has to make sense on the website you're opting for. For example, BuzzFeed is a little more broad with the type of native ads it can offer to brands thanks to the fact it does both light-hearted lists and traditional journalistic pieces. However, while you can get away with a "20 Things That..." native ad on BuzzFeed if you please, the same can't be said for a more fundamentally news-based website.

Different websites are trying to attract different types of audiences, and offering native advertising is a way for them do so without imposing the often unpopular paywall system. So even though they may rely on companies investing in native advertising on their website, they will still restrict what types of native advertising are allowed.

For certain websites, you may find that they'll either provide a guideline that lists the type of native ads they accept, or they may even help you with the process of writing up your native ad. So you can write it initially, send it to them for revision, and they'll outline necessary changes to hit the right tone. Most native ads will also be promoted on high traffic pages of the website you're running the ad on.


Is native advertising effective?

For the most part, native advertising has shown some clear signs of success. According to research from IPG media lab, native ads are often viewed for the same amount of time as legitimate editorial content. In addition to this, native ads have a far higher likelihood of being shared than banner ads (32% of respondents said they'd share native ads versus 19% for banner ads).

As with anything, however, the success of a native ad is dictated entirely by its quality. A careful balance needs to achieved. Native ads obviously act as a form of promotion for your company/brand, but it won't be worth much if the ad itself isn't offering any value to readers. If the actual content of your ad is informative, thought-provoking and entertaining, then that's going to leave a far better impression on people who see your ad than if you were to haphazardly throw any old idea together.

The key challenge with native advertising is the fact that it can't just be a blatant ad. The majority of the ad itself needs to provide intriguing insights into a topic or current talking point. It's towards the end where the sales pitch happens with most native ads; but until you reach the pitch point, you have to ensure the majority of the ad is worth the readers' time.


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Margin Media is an inbound marketing company based in Brisbane. We offer a range of digital marketing solutions to help your business increase its website trafficqualified leads and customer base. To find out more about our services, visit our home page.

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