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Native Advertising — Is it the Real Deal, or Not?

December 5, 2018
By John Hawley
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So, what exactly are the big takeaways on Native Advertising?

Needless to say, the digital marketing space is starting to expand and become more capable than ever before. Maybe you started hearing a lot of new marketing jargon such as “programmatic”, “native”, or “DSP” at a marketing event or networking conference and wondered what they all mean.

In particular, native advertising seems to get a lot of questions about what it is, and for whom it’s best suited for.

Not to worry, Mighty Fine is here to clarify.

The 3 takeaways you should have:

  • “What is native advertising?”
  • “Why native advertising?”
  • “Is native advertising really for me?”

So What is Native Advertising?

It’s nothing you haven’t seen before…

Native advertising’s formal definition is “the use of paid ads that match the look and feel of the media format in which they appear.”

Think of them as if they were advertorials in newspapers (when newspapers were in its heyday). You could purchase a spot in the newspaper that didn’t look like what you’d normally see in the advertisement section. Instead, you’d essentially have an advertisement that looked more or less the same as any other article you’d find in the newspaper.

As simple as this idea was, it proved to be highly effective. This is because advertorials would be placed in the spots where readers were already focusing their attention. Back in the 1940s through the 1960s, this form of media buying boomed onto the scene with companies trying to take advantage of this format across all types of media such as magazines, TV, and newspapers.

Ok, so how does this affect the “now”?

Nowadays, major online publications allow sponsored articles on their websites, just like advertorials in newspapers. This is an awesome opportunity for advertisers because an old advertising method has been reinvigorated, with some significant digital advantages that weren’t available before.

Marketers are starting to explore native advertising more than ever. We can see more money is being spent on native advertising, as display advertising spending seems to be plateauing.

In 2018, 58.3% of US digital display spending will be for native placements according to Insider Intelligence. That’s up from 54.0% in 2017!

To put it in another way, native advertising is starting to become a digital wave.

In particular, native advertising seems to get a lot of questions about what it is, and for whom it’s best suited for.
Native content has a leg up when it comes to other forms of display ads. Why? This is because audiences are starting to develop “blinders” towards typical display ads that clutter the sides of web pages. Native advertisement circumvents this problem by placing ads in prime-time web real estate. Simple, and highly effective!

Why Native Advertising?

It’s a better mousetrap, that’s why!

The difference between digital content and traditional content boils down to tracking capabilities. Traditional media simply doesn’t have the tracking capabilities digital media has.

When it comes to native content in comparison to other forms of digital advertisements, native has a leg up. This is because audiences are starting to ignore ads completely—people are starting to develop “blinders” towards typical display ads that clutter the sides of web pages.

Simple AND effective — without all the gimmicks

You’ve definitely seen it before. Nowadays, we’re starting to see annoying pop-up banners that drag across your screen, making it difficult to close out of. Digital banners are trying to capture people by any means necessary by using these gimmicky tactics. If anything, those annoying ads leave a sour taste in your audiences. Despite this, some advertisers will continue to bombard audiences with these ad formats that are more irritating than effective to potential customers.

With today’s level of technology, native ads can be as targeted as display ads. Not to mention, without as many wasted views as display ads tend to have. This is because native ads appear where people are actually paying attention.

So, in reality, there are a couple of major advantages to native advertising. The high level of targeting you can achieve, paired with the prime real estate these ad placements receive, allows you to get the most bang for your buck.

Is Native Advertising Really for Me?

In the big picture? Hell yeah, it is…

Native advertising is a need in almost every situation nowadays, particularly if you fall into one of these three categories:

If you are a new company that requires audience education, for an innovative new product never before seen on the market; then native is for you.

Maybe you’re in a very competitive space like an electrician company or dentistry and you would like to showcase how your quality control separates you from your competitors in the midst of a very congested space; native is for you.

Or, perhaps you need to bring awareness to an environmental/social issue people are having. Then you guessed it, native advertising is for you too.

All of these scenarios fit the bill for native advertising.

Sure — but what do the numbers say?

In fact, native advertising is starting to become less of a “would like to have” tactic and more of a “need to have” tactic. This is because people are starting to become more skeptical of what they see online. Believe it or not (no pun intended), native ads registered an 18% higher lift in purchase intent and a 9% lift for brand affinity responses than banner ads, according to eMarketer. The numbers don’t lie, and they say native advertising is in!

The key ingredient to Native

Now that we’ve explained what native advertising is, what it’s used for, and what makes it unique—there is one HUGE factor that can determine whether or not you see results with your campaigns.

The key is content.

We bring emphasis to this point because a well-executed native advertising campaign needs to look and feel like native content you would find naturally.

What do we mean by that? Simply put—don’t try so hard to sell your product! Instead, your primary goal should be to bring value to your audiences before you even think about offering them something.

People like being convinced and persuaded, but they don’t always like being sold— especially online. If you can create content that brings value to your audiences without sounding like a hardcore car salesperson, then you are going to bring a healthier pool of people to your website. And the best part is that you can retarget that pool later with other ads and content.

These audiences are more likely to come back to your site because they are genuinely interested in your brand, rather than trapped and frustrated by a gimmick. When we’ve implemented native advertising using these methods, we have seen healthier conversion rates, as well as lower bounce rates.

Final Thoughts

Of course, all of these tips and tricks are easier said than done. On the plus side, if they are executed correctly they can lead to higher engagement and better conversion rates.

Don’t forget about the last point that we made about content. It’s important to understand the value of having an effective website or landing page — and make sure you are tracking these pages as well.

If you would like to learn more about how to develop these components, check out our blog or feel free to reach out.

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