Native Advertising Defined & Explored

| November 01, 2017

An in-depth look at the similarities and differences between content marketing and native advertising, as well as some ways marketers are successfully using native advertising to deliver content.

When you hear the term “native advertising,” what comes to mind? If you’re like a lot of people, you might think of content marketing. In fact, some marketers use the two terms interchangeably. While the two concepts are associated with each other, native advertising is more accurately described as a way for marketers to distribute content.

In this post, we’ll discuss in more depth the similarities and differences between content marketing and native advertising, as well as some ways marketers are successfully using native advertising to deliver content.

Native Advertising Defined

What is native advertising? One way to describe it is advertising that blurs the lines between content and marketing. Native advertising, sometimes referred to as sponsored content, matches the visual experience of editorial content in an online publication but is intended to promote the advertiser’s product.

How is native advertising different from content marketing?

Native advertising is a lot like content marketing, not only in look and feel but in terms of providing relevant information targeted at a specific audience. However, the content is not published on the advertiser’s website but, rather, uses premium placement on other publishers’ websites to reach a particular audience. Native advertising allows marketers to deliver content to audiences based on demographics and location, as well as via contextual and behavioral targeting capabilities.

Other Ways Native Advertising is Different

Native advertising is intended to be different from traditional advertising by blending more seamlessly with the overall user experience. In other words, it’s a part of the experience, rather than disruptive. It’s intended to be more educational and informative in nature, and research indicates that it’s effective. Survey data shows that 70% of internet users favor learning about products through content rather than traditional advertising, and purchase intent is 53% higher with native ads.

Native advertising is based on a pay-to-play model. Brands pay for the placement of their advertisements alongside relevant content on other publishers’ websites.

4 Types of Native Advertising Opportunities

1. Content Recommendation Engines

For native advertising on major publishers, this can be a great way to drive traffic to your own website. This type of native advertising makes suggestions to the audience about products they may be interested in, based on their interest in the publisher’s content. These suggestions take the form of “You Might Also Like …” or “Recommended for You …” ads.

2. Promoted Listings

These types of ads are used by ecommerce sites to feature certain sponsored products first — on a category page, for example. This type of native advertising can be cost-effective, since some ecommerce sites, such as eBay, do not charge merchants for promoted listings unless the item sells.

3. In-feed Sponsored Content

In-feed ad units appear within a website’s article index, alongside the publisher’s original content. It’s identified as an ad, but it blends in with the overall user experience. For example, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn allow brands to promote particular posts so that they appear in users’ newsfeeds.

4. Contextually Relevant Ads

This is a type of native advertising that uses an automated process to match ads with relevant digital content, usually based on keywords. Google AdSense is a major player in this space.

A study by Business Insider indicates that native ads have a much higher click-through rate than traditional ads. Consumers see native advertising as informative and some don’t perceive it as advertising at all. In addition, consumers tend to have higher recall for native ads, and they respond more positively than to traditional ads.

It’s a good idea, however, to ensure that an ad is clearly labeled as such, both to avoid potential FTC scrutiny and also because doing so increases trust among consumers. A professional partner can help you steer clear of potential problems and leverage the benefits of native advertising.

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