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Vertical Marketing Network’s selection for the mid-year best marketing buzzword: Native Advertising. According to a study by IPG Media Lab, consumers engage in native advertising 53% more than banner ads, and 2% more than actual editorial content itself. But what exactly is Native Advertising? It’s not really new, but it’s a new way of describing paid-for content that exists inside an editorial feed, what used to be known as advertorial. The difference is that when it’s done right, in conjunction with the site it appears on, it amounts to pure brand gold.
Since the early days of internet advertising monetization, brands have begged big publishing sites to give them more of an integrated, immersive experience than what banner ads, interstitials, pre-roll and other interruptive techniques could offer. More than a decade later, data has shown that consumers are weary of interruptions and intrusions by traditional online techniques.
The numbers back up this fact, with the decrease of banner click-through now at an all-time low of 0.01 percent. But successful online campaigns like Old Spice’s “The man your man could smell like,” have created an entirely new dimension to giving an entertainment-hungry culture what it wants from a brand. The 140 million views on YouTube and a leadership position in market share is convincing proof.
The term “native” was coined by venture capital investor Fred Wilson at last year’s OMMA Conference when he called for “native monetization.” Soon after, Dan Greenberg, CEO of Sharethrough, expanded it to “native advertising” and it became a darling buzzword for agencies, bloggers and marketers. It could be because marketers like the idea of calling “advertorial” something publishers can accept more readily. Greenberg’s description of the term is, “ad strategies that allow brands to promote and weave their custom content into the endemic experience of a website or app.”
But native goes beyond editorial and into social and mobile applications – and consumers are responding to it. Native ads come in the form of videos, tweets, posts, photos, articles, in-game ads, meme-jacks, GIFs, and branded music playlists. Some of the best examples are on Facebook Sponsored Stories, Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, YouTube’s TrueView and Forbes’ Brand Voice. Paid-for posts on Gawker and BuzzFeed, Yelp and Cheezburger are doing extremely well and being shared socially in record numbers. Some of the most successful executions are nothing like ads, but more like an informative and entertaining projection of a brand’s value system.
To help excavate the native landscape, we’ve come up with some tools gleaned from the successes and failures of those who have gone there and back. We hope these tips help guide you in your quest to find the web’s next marketing goldmine.
Tip #1: Follow the leaders
The native ads run on BuzzFeed are some of the most successful yet. And the current leader of the pack is a Mini Cooper, with its viral video placed strategically below it’s list of “25 Places That Look Not Normal But Are Actually Real.” It succeeds in tying in the brand’s message of “not normal” with a viral, share-worthy photo list, while making it clear that the brand is sponsoring the experience.
Tip #2: Whisper, don’t shout “advertising”
With the new language of native advertising, cues like “presented by,” “sponsored by,” “suggested post” and “brought to you by” precede your brand’s logo, softly announcing that you are part of the conversation, but admitting that you paid to get there. People are savvy and they get it. As one marketer put it, “Good native advertising respects and enhances the user experience of the site they appear on,” so be sure the content of your ad takes that into consideration.
Tip #3: Be true to your brand and sharing will happen
Native advertising is a way of getting your story across to a willing audience, but you have to find the message and media that is relevant to your brand. Remember, your brand is on the giving side and it’s up to you to inform and entertain consumers or clients. If you do this successfully, the rewards are worth the effort. But reforming your communication in this way takes time and consistency, so don’t become discouraged if you don’t see results right away.
Tip #4: Court controversy if you dare
It worked for Oreo with a gay-pride rainbow cookie on Facebook, but it did not work out in a native ad in The Atlantic written by the Church of Scientology. When a brand wants to turn the tide of a culture toward them, but expresses a polarizing message, publishers and brands need to work together to find the right balance between getting attention that changes attitudes and that which stirs consumer ire.
Tip #5: Find or hire resources
If you’re serious about native advertising, it’s all about the talent. New positions are being formed in agencies for creative focus in real-time responses to social, music, meme’s and serialized content. There are also big changes going on in the online publishing world. Paul Greenberg of College Humor said that 70% of their advertisers have a native element on their site and their own editors and production staff have changed seats to create an in-house full-service agency. Find the resources and talent to keep your online marketing fresh and involved.
Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency.