It’s time for the industry to solidify a single definition for native advertising, before this powerful form of advertising slips deeper into marketing buzzword territory. Here are five key characteristics that pass the test of true native advertising.
1. Showcases content, not a display. Content, not banner! Sticking a banner ad in between the paragraphs of a blog post is not native advertising. One of the core tenet of a native ad is it should be native to the platform, which means a tweet on twitter, a post on Facebook or an article on a site is a true native ad that keeps user engaged and weaves brand’s message in user’s experience on the platform.
On the other hand, connecting with an influencer who is a trusted source of content for your target audience, and working with them to create sponsored content, is native advertising.
Native advertising is branded content that pulls consumers in by telling a compelling story. Display ads gain impressions; native ads make an impression.
2. Share-friendly. A native ad unit should have an ability to go viral. It could be tweeted, liked, shared, pinned -- you get the idea.. Which means delivering banner ads via a social media channel does not make content inherently social, it is just another form of display advertising. Effective native ads contain appealing content that draws target demographics to want to share. That means your content is emotionally or intellectually compelling.
People share content for a few key reasons. For example, an amusing video designed to entertain target consumers, or a well-written industry-specific blog post positioned as thought leadership, will be organically shared many more times than any display ad.
3. Comes from a trusted peer. It may be tempting to drive traffic or social audience growth with bots, but don’t count on this marketing tactic to get you very far. Rather, successful native advertising begins as word of mouth. Nielsen’s recent study on consumer behavior showed that 70% of consumers make purchasing decisions based on online consumer opinions and 84% make decisions based on the recommendations of family and friends.
Directing spend to peer-to-peer native advertising will be much more effective than filling social streams with posts shared or retweeted by marketing bots. Native advertising offers brands the opportunity to have their pitch come from the lips of an actual consumer. Remember, advice from a trusted friend is advice that will most likely spur action.
4. Multi-device-compatible. True native advertising can be consumed via desktop, tablet and mobile. If content is device-specific, whether it be mobile banners or in-app advertising, it is outside the definition of native ads. Content, whether it is in the form of a brand sponsored post, video and social shares, by influencer partners should be easily read, watched and shared from any device.
5. Nondisruptive. Abruptly pausing content with pre-roll, interstitials, related content links, or display ads is not native advertising. Well-crafted native advertising has branding interwoven into the fabric of the content to create a wholly immersive experience. Content that is disruptive to engagement is not only time consuming, but will also interrupt the viewer’s experience learning more about your brand.
Sponsored articles and blog posts have been considered “native ads” for a couple of years now; this marketing tactic has recently gathered momentum with the advent of social media and the ease of connecting with people. Native ads are one of the most effective marketing channels when done right. Advertisers, get it right!