Native advertising: Why it Works and How it Can Help You in a Cookieless World
Feb 09 2021
Native advertisements operate on a simple principle: rather than disrupting a user’s experience, ad content should function as a useful, integrated part of the core brand experience.
While the phasing-out of third-party cookies continues, marketers are rewriting their digital playbooks and seeking new ways to refine their full-funnel strategies. As this landscape continues to shift, native advertising is poised to become a favorite tool of the modern marketer, offering many advantages to companies of all sizes.
How to Spot Native Ads
A native ad is any piece of promotional content designed to mirror “the form, feel and function” of the organic content against which it appears. According to eMarketer’s annual report, native advertising now makes up the majority of display ad spend, totalling more than $47 billion in 2020 and growing by 4.8% over the previous year, despite the negative impact of Covid-19 on the economy at large.
While native advertising takes on many forms, frequently they appear as in-feed or in-article ads, content recommendation widgets (usually at the end of organic articles or posts), in-app video ads and “sponsored” or “promoted” posts on the major social platforms.
Sponsored posts and videos on Instagram are virtually identical to Instagram’s user-contributed content with the addition of an inoffensive “sponsored” tag in the corner. Like traditional Facebook ads, these sponsored posts are served to distinct demographics (set by the advertiser) most likely to take further action on the ad.
Likewise, sponsored Facebook posts operate like any organic post from your friends list — only the promotional aspect ensures those following your page will see the post the next time they check their feed without it getting buried under organic content. A similar promotional function has been added to LinkedIn, where your desired audience can be highly customized based on income, job type and education.
Twitter and Reddit follow a similar pattern. Content deemed relevant by your marketing parameters and the platforms’ algorithms will make your native ads appear within the otherwise-organic timeline of content. Social networks account for more than 75% of native advertising.
Why Your Audience is More Receptive to Native Ads
For any ad to land with its designated audience, it must first and foremost be relevant. In that regard, native advertising gives marketers a major boost — forging a genuine connection with users is better-suited for the native advertising format like a promoted post than other, more disruptive methods of advertising. Native ads are an opportunity to directly control the brand message and user experience, and are demonstrably more readable and shareable on social media compared to display ads.
They also pose a natural advantage in getting past ad-blockers, which have become more common as consumers try to avoid the constant barrage of digital ads vying for their attention. Brands utilizing influencer marketing can maximize this even further, since sharing native ad content has proven more effective than the alternative.
Native Ads in a Cookieless Environment
Severing ties with the third-party cookie economy doesn’t mean ad tracking goes entirely out the window. Campaigns can still secure user data through APIs like Google Chrome’s Privacy Sandbox, mobile ad IDs (which tend to be ultra-reliable as most people shop on their own mobile devices), or make certain content available in exchange for first-party data.
With the aid of tools like the Privacy Sandbox and countess others that will mimic similar functionality, marketers will still be able to employ “contextual and first-party-data, interest-based targeting, and remarketing” into their daily strategies. Normalizing first-party data is a particularly intriguing step for advertisers, as incorporating a login page or requiring registration via email may turn off a percentage of site visitors, but the data gained from those who stay can be considered high-quality lead-gen material.
Moving past third-party cookies is still a relatively new event, with plenty of new developments certain to come as businesses work out the kinks to their online strategies. In the meantime, native ads are expected to continue their trajectory as a staple of every marketer’s digital efforts.