Native advertising is one of the key advertising trends of 2016, with countless media brands presenting their own spin on ‘content that can sell’. Media brands including The New York Times and Vox Media have created various native advertising formats such as video reviews and b2b interviews while others such as BuzzFeed have been built from the ground up for marketers who are open to the new format.
While even ad tech companies looking toward offering a better solution for native advertisers, there’s still a lot of things that aren’t understood about the format. Is it subversive? What makes it different than paid ads of the past? Do users read native ads? What makes a good native ad… good? Don’t worry, because in this non-native ad for native ads, we’re going to explore everything you need to know to use this innovative format.
Paying Per Posts In 2016?
Those around the professional blogging boom of the early 00’s will remember a company named PayPerPost that did exactly what the name suggested – it let you pay for paid post on blogs. Why? Well, unlike traditional media, bloggers were open to writing paid content. The company grew nicely and simplified its product as a ‘paid post’, although not without its share of controversy.
However, as you might expect, some users didn’t like their favourite bloggers ‘selling their souls out’ to make a couple of bucks. A lot of bloggers gave in to the lucrative format that didn’t hold water in the long term. To be successful, ‘paid content’ as it is known now needed to be more respectful of both readers and authors. IZEA, as PayPerPost would later be known, would follow the trend by rebranding as a “marketplace for creators”. But let’s move on…
With improvements in web publishing, a new breed of media companies sprung up to try to sell a new type of paid content, that adhered to a higher editorial standard and didn’t blatantly sell products like those bad TV commercials of the past. Thus: Native advertising was born.
Back Up And Lets Talk About Content Marketing
You might ask why did native advertising spring up when it did. To that my answer is: Content marketing. An example of using content to sell you something in the shorter or the longer term can be seen on this exact blog. Our goal with the .ME blog is to educate you in a way that you realize that you need an awesome domain name and to help you really use it to achieve your personal and professional goals. Hopefully, once you decide you do need a domain name, it’s going to be a .ME.
And we’re not the only ones.
Companies such as Hubspot and later Intercom pioneered in creating brand content that attracted clients, users and partners. However, what they saw is that while their target market liked their content, they still went to the websites of media websites that just seemed more objective.
A couple of marketers decided that they could combine the two in a more favorable manner than it was done so far. Let’s call it native – a subset of content marketing where you have content that sells your brand on another website.
What does that mean in practice? While you would use a blog and newsletter as your inbound / content marketing strategy and a location where you want users to land, you will put native advertising content on third party websites related to your field. These websites have their following, readers and users that you can attract far more easily with content than with display ads.
#What Makes Good Native Content
So content marketing isn’t native advertising, obviously. And while the two seem alike and one is the subset of another, different rules apply if you want to make the best use of the content.
Based on four years of creating native content for brands such as Coca-Cola and T-Mobile, here’s what I can recommend:
1. The Media Brand That Sells Itself Easily Won’t Sell You Well: “It’s easy money”, could be a quote attributed to hundreds of media brands flocking to sell native advertising in 2016. They see the budgets coming in and decide that it just makes sense to join the bandwagon. Unfortunately, this means that a lot of media brands will be all too eager to get your marketing budget and will even jeopardise their relationship with their readers to do what you want. While it’s all too easy to let them do what you want, be smarter than that. Respect their audience even if they don’t have to and create native content that offers value – and in the long term – gets you to your goals.
2. The Author Is Essential – Don’t Settle For Interns: I’ve got nothing against interns but if you decide to secure native advertising on a website you respect, don’t settle for their second-best authors. A lot of media brands are creating ‘native advertising teams’, a euphemism for marketers who write native ads. While I’m sure there’s a lot of marketers that write well, it’s essential that you also get the well-respected voice of an author that readers regularly read. The worse thing they can offer you? An article entitled ‘Native Advertising Team’. Really?
3. Content For Your Brand, Not About It: Year, I’m sure it’s easier to have someone write about your product or brand as a news article or review, but is that really what will create buying intent? If your product is not an iPad or the new Tesla, are users truly that excited about it already? If you’re not 100% sure, then you need to create content that aligns with your brand and will explain WHY someone needs to buy what you’re selling. It’s not easy, but that’s exactly why you need to cooperate with native advertising experts!
Is Native Advertising Just a Trend?
While I might agree to a point that ‘native’ is a rebranded term for any sponsored content, calling it just a trend means completely misunderstanding the concept of today’s digital marketing.
It’s all inbound.
Display advertising is becoming a thing of the past, and customers expect to be guided in the right buying direction in a thoughtful way. You can’t PUSH them to buy your products; you need to pull them in. And that’s exactly what native advertising is great for. Creating content on respectful media brands that will pull their audience to make the right decision, buying your products or services!