In today’s digital advertising world, there are a lot of ways to share a message or generate clicks across the web. If you’ve dabbled in any digital advertising efforts in the last few years, you may have heard the term “native advertising” thrown around. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that it’s where over 60% of US digital display ad dollars are being spent. We wanted to take a moment to look at what’s meant by native advertising, what’s involved and what our perspective is on its place in a marketing plan.
Native ads are essentially an ad placement formatted to fit the format of a publisher in a way that doesn’t scream, “I’m an ad!” A publisher can be any website, really, whether it’s The New York Times or your favorite fashion blog.
The ad’s distinction as paid content is more or less subtle depending on the placement and publisher’s preference. Generally speaking, a small text header saying “Sponsored Content” or “Recommended Content” is how you can tell.
“Hmm,” you might be thinking, “that sounds like a lot of the clickbait ads I see.”
And you’d be right! But not all native ads are clickbait and not all clickbait ads are in “native” ad positions. Any advertisement is an opportunity to trick or scam your audience—it’s up to you to avoid chasing those empty clicks through smart, tactical messaging and creative.
Native advertising opportunities can take many forms. Some can be like advertorials, or paid placement meant to look like editorial content, where you control the message at the cost of that extra credibility you get from the media outlet.
For example, we place native ads on behalf of one client within an industry magazine that begin as a link in their monthly digest e-Newsletter to subscribers. The links look like any other link to an article they’re featuring. When they click the link, though, they land on a page with an article featuring industry expertise written by our client. On the page itself, display ads are featured with only their brand, and a CTA at the bottom directs readers to visit their website or contact them for more info.
The primary example of native advertising you’re likely to see could also be referred to as “in-read” advertising. When you’re scrolling through an article, an ad may appear—static, video or somewhere in-between—that feels like part of the website you’re visiting.
Native advertising isn’t about tricking anyone—it’s about tailoring the ad experience to make it less intrusive, more appealing and more targeted.
Sometimes advertisers get a little aggressive, sidestepping that native experience with automatic ad takeover, sound or other intrusive programming features. To keep it truly “native” and get the full benefit of this type of placement, we recommend you trust your targeting and keep your creative relevant. Don’t fall into the trap of digital ads that scream, “I’m an ad, please click me!” You may not get as many clicks, but the ones you do get will be more qualified and targeted. Also, your overall brand image will remain more positive if you don’t frustrate your potential audience. That way, they’ll be more likely to look you up later or be more receptive to the next ad of yours that they see.
If you take one thing away from this post it should be this: Native advertising isn’t about tricking anyone. It’s about tailoring the ad experience to make it less intrusive, more appealing and more targeted.
If you’d like to learn more, give our native ad above a click.