Marketers have known for generations that consumers trust objective editorials more than advertisements, but a recent Time, Inc. study shows that today's consumers also trust custom content they know is paid for by brands. Marketers have tried various methods for positioning their content as editorials, most notably using advertorials that almost look like a print publication's or website's content but aren't quite the same because publishers require different fonts, numbers of columns and a large disclaimer on the page.
Native advertising has morphed during the last five years to editorials that more aggressively feature the advertiser and its product or service. What marketers, publishers and content brokers call native advertising today can take the form of sponsored content, blog posts, advertorials, Amazon's native shopping ads and other forms of brand content.
Native advertising is primarily editorial-based, rather than taking the form of a typical display ad, but it often includes more advertiser involvement in the creation of the editorial and much more focus on the advertiser or its product or service. Confused? You're not alone. Most professional marketers say they aren't sure what native advertising is or how it works.
Despite the confusion of many, native advertising is hot right now, and ad spending on this format jumped 600 percent between 2014 and 2016, according to a recent Nativo study. If you're not using native advertising in your marketing efforts, you're missing out on three key benefits this marketing communication format offers.
1. Consumer and business empowerment
With more consumers getting most of their daily information digitally, ads in the form of flashing banners, auto-playing videos, and displays with obnoxious, offensive or misleading photos irritate potential customers. Native advertising doesn't do that. It tells a story, and consumers like storytelling. If an ad is delivered seamlessly along with the non-paid editorial content of trusted websites, it's even more effective, and that's what native advertising does. Additionally, publishers like that they have complete control over what's shown on their sites.
2. Exceptional engagement
Banner ads generate less than 1 percent click-through rates (CTR), while native ads are viewed twice as often as display ads with much higher CTRs than banners. Unlike typical display ads and force-loaded videos, native ads don't slow down browsers and interrupt what a user is trying to do or read at a site. Native ads invite page visitors to read a story and then decide whether to act on the message.
3. Pinpointed relevance
When marketers use display ads that appear on a site based on the user who is visiting, the message often has nothing to do with that site's content. For example, a person visiting a golfing website might see ads for cat food, based on his or her recent browsing history. With native advertising, the content is usually relevant to the rest of the site's content, and it's delivered via a headline that looks like it belongs on the site. In some cases, a native ad at a website provides better information for a consumer than the article that brought him or her to the site. This builds consumer trust in the marketer, who is providing value to the potential customer.