Are you sure that you're looking at an advertisement? Or is it a blog or news article? In the evolving world of marketing and advertising, businesses are trying to gain the attention of ad-weary consumers in new ways. One of the more popular strategies is native advertising. Brands, publishers, marketers and more are using advertisements that mimic editorial content – and vendors are springing up to try and capture this new facet of the marketing biz.
What does native advertising bring to the table?
The term native advertising was relatively unknown until midway through 2012 when it hit the market and took off. Native ads incorporate themselves relatively well into most content marketing ventures, which means that both strategies work cohesively together – boosting digital advertising efforts for a stronger return on investment. Mashable reported that native ads are a form of media that's built into the actual visual and content design, where the ads are strategically incorporated into the product, whther it is video, text or image. Strong native advertising makes it difficult for viewers to determine where the ad starts and what is the actual content.
However, not everyone is a fan of native advertising or third-party publisher-driven marketing ventures. James Gross, the co-founder of Percolate, told the news source that native advertising can't occur on a third-party publisher's site. "What's happening in social is that brands are acquiring audiences and then natively communicating with those audiences," he said. "Brands are the publishers and they're given the same tools as everyone else." For instance, Gross says, Coca-Cola may have 50 million fans, but it gets the same Facebook Page that you and I do. He says the model is a change since "brands have always borrowed media space [from publishers] and rammed through their message."
The emergence of advertorials is a form of native advertising. With the growing popularity of content marketing, native ads placed in the middle of articles, blogs, infographics and more, is spreading among business-to-business and business-to-consumer brands.
Are you aware of the value of adjacent content?
The immersion of content marketing and native advertising has allowed a marketer with a modern resume and creative personality to understand how to draw the parallels of both strategies and use the characteristics of each to increase the return on investment. The strategic combination of both digital marketing ploys has in turn created the concept of adjacent content. The separation between editorial and advertising is no longer apparent as marketers try to influence consumers with less blatant displays of advertisements.
"I don't know if this is a prediction or a wish, but I hope, or think, brands are going to understand the value of adjacent content. I continue to be amazed at what continues to be a misunderstanding of what native advertising should showcase," said Stephanie Losee, managing editor of Dell global communications, according to AdWeek. "People are using it to say, 'I can say anything.' Advertorial is soul-destroying. The content should not be promotional. It's an opportunity to publish content that's interesting to an audience that is interested in your company. At [Forbes] BrandVoice, we were inviting Pulitzer Prize winners, The Wall Street Journal writers, to write about thought leadership. We were asking them to write about their expertise on a page that just happened to have Dell's name."
How native advertising is impact "media"
The introduction of native advertising has made it necessary for more traditional media mediums like newspapers and magazines that report on the issues to find new ways to distinguish themselves and alleviate fears that ads are being slipped into the news. The publisher of The New York Times recently made an announcement in early December 2013 that any content with advertising material included in the story would receive a special color bar at the top of the story that would said "Paid Post." This new plan being rolled out is to better alleviate the fears of readers and newsroom personnel that there will still be a "strict separation between the newsroom and the job of creating content for the new native ads" used by the company as a way to generate revenue.
As native advertising continues to grow as a viable marketing strategy that has a proven return on investment, more businesses will begin to take the reigns on developing their own content. The world of digital marketing is expanding the available mediums for connecting with potential customers, which means the modern marketer must remain savvy and aware about the latest developments in the industry.