There is much debate over what the exact definition of native advertising is. Sharethrough describes native advertising as ‘a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.’
The content in native ads needs to appear natural by matching the visual design of their surroundings as well as remaining consistent with the user experience. The Interactive Advertising Bureau mentions that this type of content is regarded as helpful to users and is highly targeted. Native ads tend to be delivered in stream, through channels such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Forbes. Native ads should be seamlessly integrated with the normal behaviour of the channel that they are placed.
Examples of native ads
The IAB Native Advertising Task Force has recognised the following formats for native ads:
The benefits of native advertising
Sharethrough and IPG Media Labs conducted a survey using eye-tracking technology to assess the attention of consumers. It was found that consumers look at native ads 53% more than display ads, facilitating an 18% higher lift in purchase intent. Because native ads are disguised to appear as natural content, they are noteworthy to consumers, resulting in a higher click through rate. These higher engagement levels lead to conversions, meaning many marketers are finding a decrease in their cost per sale and cost per click as a result of using native rather than display ads.
According to eye-tracking results, it has been recognised that the majority of visual focus for a native ad is directed towards text, rather than the thumbnail. This is because users are looking for stories to read, and native ads harness their attention by being delivered in stream. Furthermore, it has been indicated that longer headlines with descriptive information drive higher click through rates and can improve brand perception.
Sharethrough and IPG Media Labs also found that native ads have a 9% higher lift for brand affinity. Joe Pulizzi mentions in his Ultimate Guide to Native Advertising that brands can borrow credibility from the platform where the native ad is placed. Furthermore, this can help you ‘rent your own strategy,’ through using other channels to direct users to your site and gain a database of subscribers.
Native advertsing enables you to extend the life of your content. In a cluttered media envrionment, the lifespan of a blog or post is limited. However, sponsoring content allows more dated posts to resurface.
Recommendations for native ads
The Content Marketing Institute has three key recommendations for native ads:
- Native ads need to be non-disruptive to the content of the site that they are placed on. These ads should to be relevant and targeted so that they add value for readers. The Atlantic caused uprorar by making the mistake of endorsing the Church of Scientology. This content was not regarded as useful to the publication’s readership and alienated users.
- Ensure you monitor your KPIs. It is important to keep an eye on your progress and track your customers once they have clicked on the ad. This helps you test the effectiveness of your campaign so you can improve if needed and establish your ROI.
- Native ads should drive users to your website, so it is better to host your own content.
Therefore it is important that brands post content on a relevant platform so that they adhere to the values of the users that interact with that particular site. Brands should refrain from hard sell and ensure that their native ads are informative as well as interesting so that they naturally appeal to online consumers.