Native Advertising: The Next Form of Marketing?

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Unless you live in a forest with little to no human contact, it is likely that you will be bombarded with advertisements in your daily life.

Whether that is in the form of adverts in a newspaper, flyers posted on a wall or shop window posters, you cannot escape them.

The same is true of the internet. Virtually all sites contain one or more adverts. There are exceptions of course, but mostly adverts are all around you.

This excessive amount of advertising, typically in the form of banners, has led to situation where people ignore them. This is why your click through rate for ads is only a few percent at best. There is even a label for this, Banner Blindness.

As an online entrepreneur, I’m sure you have tried a variety of marketing and lead generation techniques, including adverts and content. But have you tried Native Advertisements?

Time Warp

It seems that just like with fashion, online marketing has a tendency to take something from its offline past and dress it up in new clothes.

Native Advertising is this year’s buzzword. In reality, we have been subjected to native advertising for a long time already. If I was to call it an advertorial, you might get my meaning.

If you’re still not sure, native advertising is basically sponsored content: content that revolves around the advertisers own business and agenda.

Often these are fairly obvious to spot, but it is becoming more common to find sponsored content that is difficult to distinguish from natural content.

A Survey about Native Advertising

Copyblogger recently released their results from a survey of just over 2000 respondents. They haven’t released their cross section, but I think it’s safe to assume that the respondents are either heavily interested in marketing or work in marketing.

The results are surprising and may make you consider looking into sponsored content as both a publisher and advertiser.

No Clue

73% of respondents’ state they have little to no idea about what native advertising is. That’s very interesting, but could mean one of two things: The technique is underused or that the technique doesn’t work.

While I don’t have the stats to back this up, I personally feel it’s the former.

Two giants from different times use native advertising: marketing genius David Ogilvy and The New York Times.

Mr Ogilvy famously used the approach in an advertorial for Guinness, and it was all about oysters!

Native Advertsing - Guinness Guide to Oysters

 

An informative ‘article’, that also promotes the Guinness brand.

The New York Times announced at the start of 2014 that they would be introducing native adverts, and premiered this with an article from Dell.

Unlike a lot of others who use native advertising, The NYT feature very prominently announces that this is paid editorial content.

Why would these two famous institutions use native advertising if they felt it wouldn’t work?

Going back to the survey, 51% of respondents said that they felt skeptical about this form of advertising. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me when only 27% had some knowledge of what it even is!

On top of that 61% state that advertorials do no mislead customers.

Is it just me or does it seem that marketers aren’t really sure about this method of creating leads?

Consider Native Advertising

With this mixed bag of results, why should you consider using native advertising?

As a publisher it’s certainly another possible revenue stream, though I doubt you could charge much, if anything, without a ton of traffic behind you. That being said, it is also additional content that you have no need to write!

As an advertiser, it certainly holds promise for generating new leads, having your own content slotted into other popular blogs could certainly help grow traffic to your own site.

Isn’t this Called Guest Blogging?

It is certainly similar, but the main differences are that most guest blogging doesn’t allow links within the content and sometimes not even deep linking.

Often, you are limited to a basic link in an author bio box, which might help promote your site, but doesn’t help direct users to specific areas of your site.

Things to Consider

If you decide to bite the bullet and attempt to use native advertising to promote your own business or website, then there are a few considerations to keep in mind.

1, Be interesting

As with anything on the internet you need to keep people’s attention. As such, make sure your content is interesting enough to be read, and shared.

2. Fit in

A big consideration is the site you will be advertising on: is it a fit for your brand and are you a fit for it? Advertising a stuffy company on The Onion might work, or it might well backfire spectacularly!

3. Make it flow

The landing page also has to be relevant and flow from the content. Writing something witty and interesting only for visitors to land on a dry topic will negate any effect the advert had.

4. Avoid hard sells

The way advertorials are, you might think that a hard sell is the way forward. I would urge you to reconsider. Hard sells would break the “magic” of the native advert, alerting the user to this being more advert than copy.

In Conclusion

Native advertising is nothing new, and while it may not prove to be the most popular of advertising forms, it may still prove to be successful.

Considering that Google is always wanting more content and that perceived authority helps with brand trust, native advertising can help supply both.

Copyblogger's 2014 State of Native Advertising Report
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