Native ads are really nothing new. For years, advertorial pieces written by clients and public relations professionals have been placed in print media for consumer consumption. But it is only recently that the subject has entered the digital world, a.k.a. the magical arena called the Internet. Ask yourself, when was the last time you felt your online search was truly organic? And answer honestly.
At this point, you may be doing a bit of head-scratching. Perhaps you’re wondering, “What is native advertising, anyway?” Plain and simple, it’s paid advertising (video, images, articles, even music) that weaves a product or offering into both the content of a story and the context of the user experience so as to connect with the consumer. Content marketing, for example, is a form of native advertising.
Native ads are integrated with—not interruptive to—the consumer’s experience. They work to engage the consumer rather than force audiences to look at something they can’t click out of quickly enough. Native advertising has value to brands because it does not constrain users to consume it, but rather gently entices them with subject matter in which they already have an interest. And it carries more brand value because of its interactive nature. A good native ad is not over-promotional, and we may hardly even realize we are being served a paid advertisement.
The reality of all this buzz is that native advertising has been woven into the fabric of American life for years—in varying forms, including tweets, posts and videos gone viral unintentionally. Native ads are presented similarly to that with which we have already become accustomed.
A subtler and older example of native advertising is product placement, which has been playing a leading role in the movie industry for decades. Think back to E.T.’s use of Reese’s Pieces (Coincidence? Guess again!). It’s also worth mentioning that such notable publications as The New York Times, Washington Post, Forbes and Chicago Tribune, to name a few, have all embraced this native form of marketing/advertising.
Native ads should not scare people—they should make them feel good. This type of advertising demonstrates that a company has knowledge of its audience, including their likes and dislikes. Native ads are better than pop-ups and road blocks because after being engaged by native advertising (in whatever form), people are inclined to feel something. It’s just another way for companies to connect with consumers on an emotional and personal level.
To learn more about various forms of native advertising, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.