Are you utilizing native advertising in your content marketing strategy?
If not, it is high time to rethink your marketing efforts and content distribution as a whole. The shape of content marketing is forever changing, and as the digital ecosystem continues to shift, native advertising has become the go-to method of presenting information, because it never feels overdone. The key is to make advertising familiar, unobtrusive, and targeted to your specific audience.
What is Native Advertising?
“Native advertising” refers to a type of ad experience that adheres to a user’s natural interaction with the source material. In other words, a native ad matches a website’s visual design and is consistent with the user’s experience on that website, making the advertisement feel like a natural part of the content. Many social platforms take advantage of native advertising, including Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, tumblr, and major news sources. Advertisements are integrated seamlessly into the desktop and mobile versions to match a feed’s form and function.
There is simply no substitute for native advertising’s efficacy. Native advertising captures more attention than traditional advertising because it taps into your target audience, creating greater conversations. The former also has more engagement than other forms of advertising because users are more likely to share sponsored posts with friends.
When a company is engaged with its audience, native advertising builds more relevance and creates customer loyalty. All marketing strategists know that customer loyalty and trust is key in building a network of repeat buyers. Loyalty also breeds word-of-mouth advertising, which is essentially free. A brand that engages with its audience via native advertising improves its shareability on social media outlets, boosting the chances of going viral.
Unlike traditional forms of advertising, native advertising empowers consumers. Customers appreciate valuable content from brands they can rely on. This is because most online shoppers are not looking to purchase a new product or service; they are looking for a solution to a problem. Native advertising allows you to convince customers that you are a brand that cares.
Types of Native Advertising
There are many different types of native advertising formats used to achieve a brand’s marketing objectives. Google AdWords is one of the most common, which can consist of search ads, video ads, banners, and other advertisements integrated into a website’s content. While Google ads are becoming a traditional method of advertising, you should incorporate additional forms of native advertising to reach a larger audience.
Recommended lists are effective because they provide relevant content that keep the customer engaged. These are essentially paid content links that amplify your own content. You can add sponsored recommendations to any article using recommendation widgets, which will include a heading titled “You may also like,” or “Recommended for you” at the end of your content.
E-commerce websites can benefit from promoted listings as a form of native advertising. Promoted listings do not include editorial content; instead, they feature sponsored products that fit seamlessly into the e-commerce site’s browsing experience. In effect, the promoted listings look exactly the same as the website’s products.
Another type of native advertising is sponsored content. Sponsored content is content a sponsor has paid for but which the publisher creates. For instance, a luggage brand might pay a travel agency to create a review of their products for that agency’s blog. The article might also include in-content links and surrounding banner ads sending users to the luggage brand’s website. Sponsored content varies widely by platform and industry, but it’s a good way to provide relevant content to your target audience.
Custom ads also fall under the native advertising category. While “custom ads” is a catch-all term, it generally refers to contextual ads that do not fit any other format. These custom ads must fit seamlessly into the content in order to be considered native advertising.
Comparing Native Advertising and Content Marketing
Most people assume native advertising is content marketing, and while there certainly are similarities, it is important to note the distinctions. Think of content marketing as the broader term encompassing native advertising. Content marketing is the goal, but native advertising is one way of distributing that content.
Native advertising is a means of distributing information that adheres to a similar format and style as the other content on the site. This form of unobtrusive advertising engages customers and encourages sharing, which is great news for advertisers. Native advertising marries form and function, making it one of the most effective monetization strategies currently available.
Content marketing, on the other hand, is a strategic marketing technique that involves creating and distributing consistent, valuable content in order to attain a clear goal. Think of it as social currency. Its main objective is to drive customer action, which makes it an ongoing process. Native advertising may consist of paid opportunities such as banner ads, which is only one slice of the content marketing pie.
To put it another way, content marketing adds value to a user’s experience without a sales pitch. It communicates a message to the customer in a way that encourages interaction. Native advertising is non-disruptive paid content that does include a sales pitch, no matter how subtle. A content marketing strategy can include blog posts, podcasts, infographics, newsletter campaigns, and social media posts, while native advertising includes promoted listings, recommendation widgets, in-feed units, and paid searches. Content marketing strategies such as articles always outrank ads, so while you can have content marketing without native advertising, you cannot have the latter without the former. The most effective content marketing plan, however, will include both.
Native advertising should be an integral part of any content marketing campaign. Whether you aim to focus on recommended lists, sponsored content, or integrated ads, native advertising provides users with a non-disruptive content experience that does not even feel like advertising, when it is done right. Where content marketing is the overall strategy that includes a mixed bag of tricks, native advertising is an effective tactic that adds value and generates consumer loyalty, giving your brand that much-needed boost.