Native advertising involves creating ads that don’t appear to be ads. Successful native ads contain engaging content that fits in with its natural surroundings. What do I mean by natural surroundings? If you’re advertising on a site that is known for its humorous editorial content, for example BuzzFeed, and your ad is made to be comical, viewers will be more likely to engage with it, and less likely to blind themselves to it, as it will be far less obvious that they’re viewing an ad, particularly if it’s actually funny!
As the average attention span continues to narrow, marketers are having to become more intelligent and creative with how they feed ads and reach their audience. Native advertising helps address this issue by offering a solution to “ad-blindness”, which is the tendency to overlook anything that appears even remotely like an advertisement.
As a small business owner, native advertising is perfect for increasing levels of audience engagement. If executed successfully, the content that makes up your native ads will have a broader impact by being shared and liked and, of course, spoken about in the months following your initial campaign launch. Research carried out by LinkedIn revealed that millenials value shared content more than any other group, and native ads offer the most effective and incognito means of having your ads shared.
It’s important to remember that the purpose of Native ads, beyond merely being seen, is to encourage engagement. The secret to running a killer native advertising campaign is in generating high-value content that is strategically targeted. There’s little point in placing your native ads in front of the wrong audience!
By integrating native advertising into your content marketing strategy, you’ll be more likely to engage consumers in the right location, and ultimately improve their online browsing experience, while simultaneously communicating your brand’s message.
When does Engagement trump Sales?
A fairly common misconception about the types of analytics and metrics advertisers should be measuring the success of a campaign by, is that a strong click through rate (CTR) is more important than actual engagement. Wrong. Your level of engagement is far more important. Why? Think about it. Native advertising has engagement as its core purpose. By creating content that is actually interesting and useful, you motivate your audience to share your content with their social circles, which eventually leads to more clicks.
One method for maximising your engagement levels is to place your native ads on sites whose readers more closely align with your audience. Carefully select where you publish your content, and tastefully integrate it on those sites. Assume that the “look and feel” of the host site is what attracts its readers into clicking the content and model the visual appeal of your Native ads to blend in with the sites unique aesthetic identity.
Native ads actually enhance the experience of the user, particularly when targeted to the right market. Selecting where your native ads will be shown is just one important step. The most effective native ads will not just be cleverly placed on the right sites, but will also be paired with the best publications to connect emotionally with your audience, boost engagement and drive home your brand’s message.
One thing to keep in mind, when creating your content, is that often the most engaging ads have the least text, i.e. they’re more visual like an infographic. Some studies, like that conducted by LinkedIn, have shown visual native ads to be 30 times more likely to be engaged with than text-based ads.
Another tip for improving the results of your native advertising campaign is to track the type of consumers who are engaging to better understand your true audience. Tracking is also incredibly important for identifying the best window for publishing your content. Knowing when users are engaging most will help you optimise the results of your campaign.
Native advertising is most effective when users are online and able to be engaged, so feel confident in publishing your ads more than once, as this will broaden the overall reach of your campaign.
Without fail, the best and most successful native advertising campaigns are those where the company has invested into understanding their particular market. As the old adage goes, if you fail to prepare (i.e. don’t invest into customer research), you prepare to fail!
Finally, understand your customers’ values and communicate in a manner with which they can relate. High-value native ads are those that are tailored to customers with whom they would most easily connect, so know your market!
Watch and Learn
Many advertisers engage in native advertising campaigns, so one way to learn which approaches work and which don’t, is to watch and learn. Another technique used by major brands in their native advertising campaigns is to gather insights from users who respond to the content of your native ads, and then to create new content that takes into account these initial insights, almost like an ongoing conversation with your audience about a topic that relates to your brand’s message but doesn’t impose this message in a hard sell approach. This is called dynamic native advertising, and is something we will touch on in another article.
Once you go Native, you’ll never go back
Consumers are becoming less and less likely to click on an ad, especially when it actually looks like an ad. Native advertising is the answer to this problem. It offers a seamless way to connect with your audience and communicate your brand’s message without interfering with their online experience. In fact, native advertising, if done correctly, adds to this experience and leaves your target audience keen to learn more.