What Is Native Advertising?
Native advertising is paid content — an article, an infographic piece, audiovisual content — meant to promote and sell a good or service. This sponsored content is carefully crafted to fit in with the look and feel of the online publication that carries it. Unlike the rectangular advertising on a website site banner or side-column, native advertising doesn’t look slapped on the page and foisted on the unwilling viewer. At its best, it adds value and raises a company’s profile in a good way.
Native Advertising Examples
Look for it:
- In the news sites and the social media feeds: You’ll see native advertising examples on your go-to online newspapers and all the top social media feeds. In-feed advertising blends with the regular content almost seamlessly. The native advertisements show up right in line with other posts, informational pieces, and op-ed content.
- Paid search results: Native advertising examples also show up at the top of the page when you retrieve search engine results. The little “ad” box on the top left shows that the highly positioned results are native advertising placements, designed to fit in with organic search results and catch the eye of the interested web user.
- “If you liked…”: Widgets and listings that showed what people “also viewed” or what other items are “recommended for you” can help the reader who's looking for a specific kind of item or service. At the same time, these widgets are promoting the product or service in the placement and effectively increasing sales.
- Display or banner advertisements with native placement: Some native advertisements come in the traditional style, in a side column or banner but the placement fits the topic of the site. It might go perfectly with the subject matter on the web page that carries such ads. A running shoe ad, on a fitness site, beside an article about the health benefits of running? Great placement.
The internet is slowly turning away from algorithms that lift click-bait to the top of search results. Its reward system is becoming much more sophisticated now. It looks for how the viewer interacts with the content and for how long. High quality, originality, usefulness and authentic viewer interest are beginning to rivet the search engines' attention.
And marketing is becoming sophisticated too. Really great marketing can enrich the web — or at least kick the typical user experience up a notch.
Why Native Advertising Is Popular
People looking at materials online know where the banners and the sidebar advertisements are. And they know how to ignore those spots while paying attention to what they want to read, hear and view.
As the ads become ever more intrusive and impossible to shut out, fed-up customers are heading in droves for the nearest ad blockers to filter out the unwanted noise.
In fact, one rising star in cryptocurrency, the Basic Attention Token, or BAT, offers a web browser designed to filter out all advertising except that which the user voluntarily seeks (and gets paid to view).
In a brilliant marketing move, Coinbase is now paying people (in digital currency) to learn about currencies such as BAT. For BAT, Coinbase even pays subscribers higher amounts to install the cryptocurrency’s native web browser, Brave. People who use the web browser can earn more digital currency for opting in: voluntarily paying attention to advertisers on Brave.
Want proof that the Coinbase and BAT marketing concept works? We’re talking about it now.
Native advertising is designed, quite simply, to intrigue viewers rather than annoy them. And it works. Especially with millennials. Most millennials outsmart and tune out traditional advertising, but they do like advertising that’s painstakingly developed to interest and reward them.
And people in general engage with native advertising much more—in some cases up to 60% more—than they respond to traditional banner ads. According to an AdRoll survey, the average click-through rate is 53% higher for native advertising. Some sources calculate the gains at still higher levels.
And if the advertising is done especially well, social sharing and emotional connections to the brand take root.
So Brands and Marketers Can’t Get Enough of Native Advertising
Banner and sidebar advertising is still a major segment of advertising purchased for the internet, yet native advertising is one of the fastest-growing segments of marketing. As a branding method, it has won an investment rise year-to-year that has averaged more than $8 billion, and now, it's getting close to making up to two thirds of the whole digital advertising market. In the U.S. alone, we’re talking a 40+ billion-dollar market in 2019. And in 2020, some analysts say it's poised to grow by at least 20%.
The social power of such advertising is why three out of four U.S. native advertising dollars are going to social media placement: Instagram feeds, sponsored content on LinkedIn, Twitter polls and special offers. Many of these pieces are leveraging the attractiveness of video or in some way, reaching the audience visually. LinkedIn recommends showing more and saying less in its how-to guide to creating native ads.
One more very important point: Today, most web use starts from mobile devices, and with limited viewing space on hand-held devices for display or banner ads, native ads afford a variety of good ways to draw mobile users.
Know the Risks, When Native Advertising Meets Public Concern Over “Fake News”
To do great native advertising design and placement is to have a nuanced understanding of the audience. Insufficient transparency, or even the appearance of stealth, can backfire.
The Federal Trade Commission requires advertising disclosures, describing the content as sponsored. Still, without standardized requirements for online disclosures, perhaps it’s no wonder a lot of viewers cannot tell a sponsored item from a news or op-ed piece.
Researchers ran an online experiment in which a diverse population of more than 700 web users viewed a real Bank of America advertisement — one about banking tech, created for the bank by a marketing agency. The item included a disclosure stating it was sponsored content, and yet, not even a tenth of the viewers understood the piece as a commercial.
The takeaway? Disclosures do need to be prominent. Doing this right is worth it. People are more receptive to material if they understand where it’s coming from and the motive, so the viewer of the web page or the social media feed should always be able to discern that the piece is promotional, rather than editorial content. This is especially so, given the public sensitivity to the presence of “fake news” — propaganda posing as information.
Weaving More Trust Into the Web
Up-and-coming projects such as po.et are working with blockchain to do things that regulators can’t. They are out to preserve the originality, creativity and integrity of people’s work as well as people's authentic claims to materials online.
Today's companies, and the marketing groups that promote them, need to take special care of their promotions and avoid even the appearance of deceptive ploys. The public trust in companies and their marketers will take a beating otherwise. We must insist on best practices. We must show our audiences the respect they deserve as the impact of blockchain will be far-reaching and critical. (We noted the advent of blockchain in protecting web users from fraudulent and malware-laden advertisements in our blog entry on 4 Marketing Mega-Trends You Can't Ignore In 2019 — and we're watching!)
That said, native advertising can be used with wisdom and care and the ROI will be all the better for it. Native marketing can create a personal connection between the company and its audience, which can lead to well-cultivated relationships and high-quality leads.
Our know-how can help you boost public awareness of your company, while guarding your good reputation. Contact HexaGroup to learn more about how native advertising can bring more interest and stronger loyalty to your brand.