With spending on native advertising increasing 600% between 2014 and 2016, it’s clear this trend is here to stay. Native advertising – or paid marketing materials made to look like the articles or social media posts on the sites on which they are placed – varies widely in terms of both content and quality. Looking at that variety it’s also clear this is a trend that’s not fully understood yet.
Spending part of your budget on an advertising platform merely because it’s trendy won’t necessarily lead to results -- so, what are the best practices for making the most of your native advertising budget?
The first piece to a successful native ad is determining which type of native advertisement would best resonate with your target audience. That decision is heavily influenced by what type of content they tend to prefer online – social, editorial, or image based – because that is the type of content your advertisement will need to mimic.
The first option is social content advertising. These are Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram ads made to look like posts in your customers’ feeds. Because they are mixed into targets’ feeds alongside non-paid content, successful versions of these posts will match not only the style of the site but the type of content that your targets choose to fill their feeds with.
The second option is editorial, or writing articles that while marked as sponsored content are mixed in with journalistic articles on news sites. These can cover a wide variety of industries and topics -- for instance a car company or dealership could post an ad covering their Top Road Trip Tips or a financial services firm could develop an online quiz that helps determine your retirement needs.
The final type is image-based content. These native ads look like the image links to other articles or pages on news websites but connect readers to your company’s website instead.
Once you’ve determined the proper type of native advertisement to create, it’s time to focus on the content. Above all, it’s important to remember that native ads are supposed to feel less interruptive than traditional ads, so they need to provide the reader with content they would have chosen to engage with. In order to do that, it’s helpful to remember the four Ts: target, tone, teach, and transparency.
Because native ads need to reach people with content that looks like the content they seek out, proper targeting is a key component to the success or failure of a native ad. Your content should look drastically different if you want to reach the moms of Millennials or the Millennials themselves. Look at the types of articles and content your target audience reads by choice and work from there.
Reading the content your audience likes will help with the next key factor: tone. The tone of your native advertising needs to match the feel of not only the site it’s on but also of your audience. This applies to both the images and text, which need to feel appropriate and candid.
Thinking of native advertising as a tool can also help increase its impact. Because native ads can include video content or animated gifs, you can use them to teach your targets something new about your product or service or a way to use it that might not be a good fit for a traditional or banner ad. Once you’ve done that, be sure to direct them to a landing page that relates to that content. The Native Advertising Institute suggests directing them to a “content rich destination: article, infographic, video or a combination of each.”
And last, but certainly not least, is transparency. No consumer wants to feel duped by a post that turns out to be an ad. People look to social media for an authentic and curated experience full of content from known friends and brands. Blending into that content is important, but differentiating yourself from that content with a logo or note of sponsorship is imperative.
Successful native ads keep the experience that their target customer is hoping to have online in mind, Create native advertising content that will not only match, but enhance it.