As a marketer, you've been hearing the pros and cons of native advertising for a few years now. There's no doubt native ads have a strong foothold in today's digital marketing strategy. The Interactive Advertising Bureau disclosed that 64 percent of marketers will execute budget spending on native advertising within the next 6 months in a report at Forbes. Additionally, AOL UK reported that a full third of its revenue in 2014 will come from this form of advertising.
Defining Native Ads
The first iteration of native ads began cropping up in 2011. Facebook was a trailblazer with its sponsored stories. These were ads crafted to look like any other status update or Facebook post according to Ad Age. There has been backlash against native advertising that is not clearly labeled as such, but with the right labeling, native advertising can be a strong tool for a business.
Today, native ad articles take many forms, but the basic intent is the same: The marketer gets the attention of a target online audience by providing content that's wrapped within the context of the user's experience.
Native ads are found on websites and on hit television shows, such as The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, according to MediaDailyNews. They can be found among features in The New York Times, The Atlantic and Forbes. Even video games are jumping into the fray according to a sponsored post on VentureBeat.
Here are some questions that will help you determine if native advertising is a good use of your digital marketing budget.
How Strong Is Your Mobile Marketing Strategy?
As users continue to enjoy both the desktop and mobile devices for their media content, it makes sense that native ads will follow this trend. Just as your digital marketing strategy has shifted to include mobile, your native ad content must be designed to capture that audience. You should make sure your content is properly optimized with responsive design for tablet and phone engagement.
How Well Do You Know Your Target Customer?
Launching a native ad campaign without a clear understanding of your target customer is like throwing a dart in an unlit room: You'll never hit the bulls-eye unless you can see where you're aiming. Make sure you have a thorough customer demographic and psychographic profile so you know which sites are appropriate.
How Well Can You Tell Your Story?
At the core of any native ad is a story, rather than a traditional, hard-sell call-to-action. A great example is a campaign by the National Dairy Council in the Washington Post's BrandConnect section. These stories include short articles, photos and videos focused on dairy farmers and their daily lives. Each installment is informative, engaging and offers a glimpse into a profession readers probably know nothing about. The stories are also clearly labeled as sponsored content, so readers immediately know where the content is coming from.
Brands can reap rewards from native advertising as long as they understand the requirements and the end goal. If your company understands your target audience and can tell your story creatively, native ads can deliver new options to engage with potential customers.