Could advertising work for you? Tale’s David Landes explains some of the advantages of native advertising and what to consider when deciding if it’s right for your next campaign.
Native advertising: what is it?
This question may not be asked as often as it was a few years ago, but it’s still relevant today. After all, the range of native advertising formats continues to expand. And its popularity continues to grow, with advertisers expected to spend north of $400 billion by 2025.
Put simply, native advertising is any sort of advertising that matches the look and feel of the platform or channel on which it appears. Advertising is “native” if it seeks to blend in, rather than disrupt, the other content that appears around it.
The format that often springs to mind when discussing native advertising is a sponsored article published on a news website. The “native” content of a news website is generally articles. And since visitors are looking for and expecting to consume articles when clicking to the site, publishing a sponsored article (clearly labeled of course) is a way to package your message in a format the audience is primed to consume.
What are some common native advertising formats?
Sponsored articles, promoted tweets, article recommendation widgets…these are just a few of the myriad of native advertising formats available. It can be something of a jungle out there. But a couple of years ago the Interactive Advertising Bureau came up with its native advertising playbook to help standardize the way in which marketers categorize and talk about native advertising.
The IAB divides native advertising into three main categories:
- In-feed or in-content
- Content recommendation
- Branded Content
In-feed ads cover most of the sponsored posts you see on social media – they are ads formatted to look a lot like other posts in our feeds from friends and colleagues.
Content recommendation ads are those boxes at the bottom of articles on news sites containing a collection of “recommended” links or stories.
These first two categories are the dominant categories of native advertising. But the third category, Branded Content, is the most relevant one for me and my colleagues at Tale. It covers sponsored articles and other content that is produced together with clients.
Branded Content is often published in partnership with publishers’ own branded content “studios”. They can make sure the final format matches that of the publisher and then help optimize the content to perform well on a publisher’s own platform or site.
Is native advertising right for me?
It’s hard to answer that question definitively without knowing more about your communication or campaign goals. But native should definitely be included in your content distribution tool kit and a part of planning discussion ahead of any campaign.
Branded Content on a publisher’s website can place your brand in a context where audiences are more receptive and more likely to remember your message. A study by Outbrain and research agency Lumen found that native ads shown on premium news sites, for example, are 44% more likely to be trusted and 62% easier to understand compared to ads on social media platforms.
That’s not to say that native is right for every campaign. Often, it’s possible to accomplish your goals using other formats and channels. But to help drive that discussion, here are three factors to consider when deciding on whether or not native makes sense for you.
1. Do you have a story to tell?
Branded content works best when there is a story that needs telling – rather than simply a product that needs selling. It provides the space, format, and creative space for conveying ideas and values. It’s an opportunity to inspire or educate the audience. And since native advertising is usually published on news sites, the format is particularly well suited to messages or concepts that can be packed as a news article format: compelling headline, succinct introduction, different voices and perspectives, as well as some nuggets of knowledge the audience can take with them.
2. Does your target audience match that of the publisher?
One of the key advantages of native advertising is gaining access to a publisher’s audience “on their own turf” and in a format they’re receptive to. But it’s important to figure out if that audience is the one you’re trying to reach. In some cases, it’s obvious: native advertising on a tech website makes sense for a company keen to talk about innovation with a tech-savvy audience. This is why so many niche publications have developed native advertising offers. More general news outlets also have plenty of audience data they can share to help determine if their channel is right for you.
3. Are you ready to get creative?
It’s one thing to have a story to tell, but it’s another thing to have the energy and creativity to make it relevant and memorable. Native advertising is still advertising, and thus provide the space and scope to think creatively about how to tell your story. The fact that native advertising doesn’t appear on your own channel opens things up further – what happens when you are no longer constrained by our brand guidelines? And don’t worry – if you aren’t sure your organisation can summon the creative bandwidth to “think different”, it’s always possible to bring in any agency partner.
If you want to learn more about native advertisning, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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