How to Do Native Advertising Right: A Brief Guide With Great Examples

How to Do Native Advertising Right: A Brief Guide With Great Examples

But, with the prevalence of digital media, marketers’ view of the technique and how it can be applied has expanded, and with it, so too has CMI’s definition: Native advertising is a paid/third-party advertising format that supports either brand or direct-response goals, and is where the content matches the form, feel, function, and quality of the content of the media on which it appears. Brands pay for the placement of content on platforms outside of their owned media properties. Ideally, the content in a native campaign should be useful, interesting, and highly targeted to the media channel’s audience. Native advertising doesn’t disrupt the user experience because it’s featured in a way that does not impede the user’s normal behavior on that channel. Think of native advertising as a way of distributing your high-quality content so it can get discovered by consumers who might not yet know enough about your brand to engage with that content on your owned media channels. They are built to look and function like organic posts. Search ads appear in stream and match the form and function of other entries on a search engine results page (SERP). Regardless of the format, native advertising campaigns must follow the same disclosure rules that govern other advertising. (5) Prospect conducts a search on Google where a native-search ad leads the person to Santander’s website to start the loan application. Recognizing the value of connecting with its target audience more personally than a typical ad spot could manage, pharmaceutical company Abbvie rose to its marketing challenge with a series of sponsored video posts for The Los Angeles Times.

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As someone who started her content career in traditional journalism, I took some time to come to terms with the concept of native advertising. I bristled at the thought of paid ads masquerading as editorial content, violating the church-and-state division I was taught.

But, like it or not, the rules of publishing have changed. The lines between media and marketing have blurred, and brands have more power, influence, and opportunities to communicate directly with audiences. And new tools and strategies have emerged and disrupted the game.

Like any good species in a survival-of-the-fittest world, I’ve come around to see significant value in native advertising – when it’s executed smartly and strategically.

What is native advertising, in a nutshell

As Robert Rose, CMI’s chief strategy advisor, recently explained, the classic term for native advertising is “advertorial” – an advertisement in a newspaper or magazine appearing in the style of an editorial or journalistic article. But, with the prevalence of digital media, marketers’ view of the technique and how it can be applied has expanded, and with it, so too has CMI’s definition:

Native advertising is a paid/third-party advertising format that supports either brand or direct-response goals, and is where the content matches the form, feel, function, and quality of the content of the media on which it appears.

Let’s unpack that, looking at the three defining principles at play in native ads:

  • They are a direct-paid opportunity. Native advertising is pay to play. Brands pay for the placement of content on platforms outside of their owned media properties.
  • They’re typically information-based rather than overtly product-focused. Ideally, the content in a native campaign should be useful, interesting, and highly targeted to the media channel’s audience.
  • They’re delivered in stream. Native advertising doesn’t disrupt the user experience because it’s featured in a way that does not impede the user’s normal behavior on that channel.

Think of native advertising as a way of distributing your high-quality content so it can get discovered by consumers who might not yet know enough about your brand to engage with that content on your owned media channels.

Types and transparency tips

Though native ads can take many forms, these are most commonly used in content marketing:

  • In-feed units appear alongside other content in a news feed or list of content. They are built to look and function like organic posts. (Some social channels offer additional features to business clients that regular users can’t access.) A sponsored post in your Instagram or Facebook feed is a great example of this format.
  • Search ads appear in stream and match the form and function of other entries on a search engine results page (SERP). These narrowly targeted placements are most commonly used to drive a direct response – a sale, download, or data capture.
  • Recommendation widgets create a designated spot for sponsored stories to appear on a site’s pages, usually underneath or alongside the site’s organic editorial content.
  • Paid blog posts are a native opportunity offered by many larger media companies through their blogging partnership platform (Forbes’ BrandVoice is one prominent example). Published on a co-branded site page, these efforts are designed to appear more like collaborative, ongoing thought leadership than one-shot promotional spots. They hold appeal for audiences looking to dive more deeply into relevant, news-related topics.

Base decisions on which units to use on your strategic content marketing goals, as well as the capabilities of your target publication. Regardless of the format, native advertising campaigns must follow the same disclosure rules that govern other advertising. You’ll find the FTC guidelines here. Pay attention to these core principles:

  • Do not try to deceive the audience or misrepresent the nature of these promoted materials in any way.
  • Identify clearly and prominently any sponsored or branded content (i.e., clearly label it as advertising).
  • Disclose prominently any clarifying information to avoid deception (e.g., the content comes from your brand and not the publisher).

A native edge

Native ads are designed to give your content greater visibility than it might receive on your owned channels. They also provide greater relevance and authority than other digital advertising. Native ads achieve this in two key ways:

  • Placing your content on trusted and reputable information sources offers a strong potential to engage a broader audience. Because the content…

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