by Megan Full
Native Advertising: Baking Ads into Content Cookies
A few months ago, British comedian John Oliver regaled his audience with his personal take on native advertising:
“Ads are baked into content like chocolate chips into a cookie… except it’s actually more like raisins into a cookie, because no one wants them there.”
I took the artistic liberty of cleaning up Oliver’s language, but his colorful simile offers a great explanation of native advertising.
Native advertising aims to assimilate an advertisement into a website’s content, layout, format, and design so well that it appears to be native to that website- and it’s all the rage in content marketing.
Native and Display Advertising
Display advertising is a cash cow for websites and when implemented correctly, can effectively drive traffic to your website. In fact, a recent study conducted by Edelman and IAB concluded that an overwhelming 86% of consumers find online advertising necessary to receive free content online.
Despite the overall acceptance of digital advertising, the study also found that 60% of consumers are more receptive to online ads that tell a story, a finding that corresponds perfectly with one of the key principles behind content marketing: consumers crave relevant, interesting content.
Native advertising allows marketers to provide that quality content in a non-disruptive fashion – but how do you know what’s native and what’s not?
Blurred Lines: Editorials, News, and Advertisements
Native ads typically appear on news, business, or entertainment sites formatted as articles or widgets – think Buzzfeed’s enticing “10 Things You Need to Know” headlines promoted by big-name brands.
Oftentimes, the only thing distinguishing native content from non-native content is a small disclaimer informing you it’s sponsored by another company. By presenting advertisements in a format consistent with a website’s design and content, advertisers are essentially “disguising” their advertisements.
Critics of native advertising claim that native ads mislead consumers by blurring the lines between news, editorials, and advertisements; but studies show that native ads are typically well received and easily distinguishable as “sponsored content”.
Types of Native Advertising
Native ads come in countless forms; in-feed ads, recommendation widgets, and promoted listings are all forms of native advertising. Websites are legally obligated to distinguish native ads from their own content and they will always be coupled with commonly used disclosure terms such as:
- “Promoted”, “Sponsored”, or “Presented” by
- “Suggested Post”
- “Featured Partner”
- “Recommended by” or “Recommended from around the web”
- “You might also like”
If you choose to integrate native advertising into your marketing strategy, it’s important to remember that consumers are more likely to trust advertisements that:
- Appear on trustworthy sites
- Are sponsored by trusted companies
- Fit naturally into the form and function of a website
- Tell them a story in a non-intrusive way
As with all forms of advertising, effective native ads require a thorough understanding of your target audience and their preferences as consumers. Before launching into the world of native, make sure to have a strategy: you don’t want to be known as the advertiser serving your customers raisins when they’re expecting chocolate chips.