Whether or not you’re aware of native advertising, chances are you’ve discovered a new product or even bought something thanks to this marketing technique.
What is Native Advertising?
It is the concept of delivering internet advertising through organic, seamless integration with a host website or platform. The premise of a native ad is that the advertisement blends in with the purpose, style, branding, and look of the page or platform in which it’s being delivered.
The counterpart to native ads is banner ads, which have existed since the heyday of the internet. Banner ads are rectangular-shaped advertisements that don’t necessarily match the inherent feel of a website.
As Taboola notes, native advertising is “most likely to look just like all other articles and pieces of content around it.”
This strategy is made possible through paradigm-shifting trends in digital and online engagement — monetized ads through websites like Google, social media channels like Facebook, or through website functions like widgets and apps. In addition to appearance, the native ad must also behave in a way that is consistent with the website. Games, for example, might have a different type of native advertising than a text-heavy news website.
What Is Native Advertising and Does It Work?
The fundamentals of native ads aren’t so different from standard marketing principles. The publisher is seeking to create a revenue stream through advertisements while the client wants a return on investment through increased engagement and brand awareness using targeted, intelligent tactics. Thus, this strategy requires some type of mutual relationship between the monetizing website and the client.
To ensure the native ads are consistent with the form and function of the host platform, the publisher will typically work with the client to make this process easy. An increasing number of websites are making the creation and placement of native ads simple. For example, Facebook and other social media outlets offer tools within their platforms so that you can design ads and select which audiences to target.
What Is Native Advertising and What Are the Risks?
Though native ads have become ubiquitous, they’re controversial and aren’t guaranteed to land well with consumers. Since they’re seamlessly integrated, native ads can mislead and jeopardize authenticity.
This is especially the case for news magazines or information outlets that run “stories” that are written by companies. In this situation, the author byline would likely include words like “paid content” or a disclosure at the bottom that notes it’s a sponsored story. Despite this disclosure, readers may feel uneasy about the news outlets’ ability to objectively report on the company. With social media sites, there’s also controversy over how they’re able to regulate potentially offensive ads with such a hands-off approach to their concept, design, and publishing.
Moreover, as native advertisements become integrated with the platform experience, consumers may not always be able to differentiate between unbiased content and an ad. Depending on the person, this may or may not be a deal-breaker that ruins trust in a brand or product.
Despite this, native ads is here to stay. Three out of four publishers offer it on their websites, and 41 percent of brands are using native ads as part of their marketing strategies. As with any tool, native ads require a strategy to be successful.
Below are examples of native ads that are valuable to consumers while being designed carefully.
Examples of Native Ads
Perhaps the best way to answer the question “what is native advertising” is to look at real-world examples.
Buzzfeed was an early adopter of native ads. The website has a specific style (humorous and relatable articles, quizzes, and pop culture content for a younger demographic) that many companies are looking to market through.
Buzzfeed Native Ad Example
As with all native ads, the key to success is to create content that’s valuable and connects with readers. In this example of Pepsi sponsoring a post on Buzzfeed, the article is intended to align the reader's impression of Pepsi as a relevant company with pop culture capital.
According to BuzzFeed, their model is effective in generating purchases and targeting millennials with content that connects.
Facebook Marketplace Native Ad Example
Another example is promoted advertisements and listings in Facebook Marketplace, a platform within Facebook that allows users to list items for sale. Alongside items listed for sale by Facebook users are ads placed by brands.
In this case, Facebook targets the native ads to specific demographics based on their search history and what items they’ve previously interacted with. In the example below, Citizens Bank is using Marketplace to attract potential customers looking to save money.
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