What Can Native Advertising Learn From 'Homeland' And Jason Bourne?

I'm a big fan of spy shows like “The Americans,” “Homeland” and the “Bourne” movie series. The top operatives in these programs have one common thread in that they are able to assassinate somebody plus make it look like it was an accident. That is what truly makes them a rare pro. Native advertising done right also takes a pro. 

Anyone can write a basic infomercial or advertorial. Only a true professional can elevate branded content to another level so that it blends in with the actual editorial content of the site. Instead of promoting to a user the best native ads provide value to the user in the form of entertainment or education. 

It is still evolving but native advertising put simply is advertising that blends into the look and feel of a site including articles, photos, videos and infographics. According to Sharethrough, consumers looked at native ads 53% more frequently than display ads. That is a reason right there to try native advertising. From that same report, native ads led to a 52% bump in purchase intent which is 18% higher than banner ads. That stat speaks for itself. You can get in-depth info about custom content and native advertising from a previous post I did for MediaPost.



Mobile is helping to pave the way for native as smaller screens have led many mobile publishers to adapt their advertising strategy and ad units. Social is also contributing to the rapid growth of native as Facebook and Twitter now generate a large chunk of their revenue from sponsored stories, promoted tweets and similar integrated ads. 

All of us in the native advertising arena owe a big thank you to Westjet for creating such an amazing Xmas promotion last December which was part PR genius and part native. They reaped massive benefits from the viral sharing of the video as well which is another interesting aspect to native. The video has over 36 million views on YouTube and counting. Other travel brands embracing native include Marriott and JetBlue. Native seems perfect for destinations who all need to tell their own story. 

Every brand is constantly on the lookout for brand ambassadors and native done well brings you those ambassadors for free. When your branded content gets shared it speaks to the utility it provided to the end user. If the user accepts and enjoys the content, then you know it was a success. Perhaps brands will place more emphasis on quality in order to drive more sharing and higher engagement levels. That is why publishers and brands are hiring journalists and building out newsroom capabilities. You cannot do native advertising justice without interesting content. 

The time is now to get involved with native. It is widely known that only about half of your banner impressions are even seen by a human. If you are still spending most of your money on display, it might be worth putting some dollars into media that offers higher engagement and greater viewability. Native advertising offers you both. No spy experience necessary.

5 comments about "What Can Native Advertising Learn From 'Homeland' And Jason Bourne?".
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  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, August 5, 2014 at 2:46 p.m.

    Better you should follow up on Steve Smith's article today with a good dose of his recommended video. Steve had something to contribute.

  2. Ryan Bifulco from Travel Spike, August 5, 2014 at 5:01 p.m.

    Paula, yes I saw it and especially enjoyed the humorous video. I agree that news sites need to either not do native or do a much better job of alerting their users. For native to thrive it will need to add value to users which means the quality needs to improve.

  3. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, August 5, 2014 at 5:04 p.m.

    I feel like this is a press release promoting native ads without any substance to why. You mentioned a bump in purchase intent. Can you please share some data that this comes from. Because it doesn't seem like a legitimate set of data points. Neither type of ads gets a bump for me. And unless real purchases occur then is native ads more wasted money spent on 'branding'.

    Sorry to be devils advocate if you are stumping to show the benefit of native then show me the money! You can't cherry pick the one success story among the gazillion failed ones. I want real data! Thanks!

  4. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, August 5, 2014 at 5:06 p.m.

    The West jet example is not native advertising. It is branded content. We all KNOW it is an ad.

    On that note guess what is native advertising?! TV Commercials. ALL OF THEM! There you go.

  5. Ryan Bifulco from Travel Spike, August 5, 2014 at 5:22 p.m.

    Howie, thanks for your feedback. Here is the link to the report:

    I believe we are still very early on in measuring the true effectiveness of Native as many publishers and brands are just now testing the waters. I don't think Native has failed millions of times but yes the industry still has plenty of challenges to overcome.

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