Look Native, Be Native, Stay Native
It looks like an editorial. It feels like an editorial. But it is not an editorial. What is this conglomeration of text and images that masquerades as a magazine or newspaper article? Branding circles have dubbed it the ‘native ad’.
A native ad is meant to do exactly as its name suggests – look as if it’s been home grown on the page of a specific online publication. Just another article meant to be read at leisure. Or so it seems.
A native ad has an editorial face because it works. Readers are much more apt to read content that appears written for the publication. Thus, in form, a native ad is an article, complete with headlines and often with matching images. In purpose, however, it is promotional content with an emphasis on information. Don’t expect slick, Super Bowl-grade pitches with this advertising option. Everything about a native ad shouts high value news.
In a very real sense, high value news is precisely what a native ad is. Only this news is designed to further the appeal of a product or service. The format has proven highly engaging, and for this reason its use is expected to rise.
Brand marketers currently implementing or considering the implementation of native ads will benefit enormously by employing certain principles. These principles generally improve engagement and response rates, sometimes to a far-reaching extent.
One of the primary principles focuses on appearance. A native ad should resemble with unfailing exactness the editorial content of the site on which it is placed. In keeping with appearances, the ad’s headlines, text, and images ideally resemble that of the online publication. Fitting in is essential. If content looks out of place, users will spot the imposter and avoid further contact. Brand marketers who insert a pre-fabricated ad plucked from the shelf should expect prompt rejection. Only the real deal with suffice.
Along with spotting imposters, readers are exceptionally hawk-eyed when it comes to identifying obvious promotions. This natural, built-in radar necessitates the use of high-value content in a native ad. For example, helpful hints and tips enhance the value of promotional editorial, thereby creating an instant connection with readers. Instead of promoting a new outboard motor, the native ad might offer insights about navigating a harbor in a northeast wind. Or whatever else the prospect would deem both useful and valuable. Native ads engage best when they satisfy the informational needs of their target readership.
If you have any questions or comments about the use of native ads for brand marketing, or about any other brand-related topic, feel free to send them our way.