One of the hottest marketing buzzwords of the moment would have to be “native advertising.” Native advertising is loosely defined as a form of paid online advertising that looks and feels like the content that surrounds it.
If this sounds familiar, it is because marketers have been doing the same sort of thing off-line for decades, except we called it “advertorial.”Advertorials have generally become known as little more than sales messages cloaked as publication-approved content.
The reason for the recent interest in native ads is essentially the same reason marketers were intrigued about advertorials. They were seen as a way to sneak advertising messages past people who don’t read ads.
This comes as a direct result of the perceived ineffectiveness of the online space’s pre-eminent ad form: the banner ad. It’s no secret that banner click-through rates (CTR) have been plummeting for years, to the point where a 0.05% CTR is considered acceptable. (Though in my opinion, CTR is a lousy way to evaluate banner effectiveness.)
In fact, according to Hubspot, today you are statistically more likely to survive a plane crash that click on a banner ad.
So advertisers are looking to native ads as the potential savior for online advertising. And the thing is, they just might be. If they’re done right.
Native advertising holds a promise that the paid advertorial never had. It is an opportunity for marketers to provide interesting, helpful, useful content to their audiences in places where they control the message. It’s an opportunity to share knowledge and experience with customers, without coming off as a sneaky hawker.
Another reason native advertising is so promising is that it can be created in almost any form. It can be a repurposed blog post. An original article. A recipe or how-to tip. A Vine video. A game. A Sponsored Tweet or Promoted Post. Or a paid search listing on Google. Here is an example: a six-second Vine video from Lowe’s:
Anything goes, as long as the sponsored content passes the “useful content” test.
Because most native advertising will be original content, and because it will rarely be scalable (you can run the same banner ad on 800 sites, but that’s not the case with sponsored content) a native advertising program can be expensive. But the upside is huge. People engage with content they find interesting and useful. And not only will they respond, they will often share it forward.
So native advertising, done right, could prove to be the “killer app” of the online advertising world. Done as a dressed-up sales pitch, however, it will be little more than a money drain.
Posted by Mickey