One of the greatest challenges Marketers face right now is how to communicate with their target audience. We have to determine the right message, communicated in an engaging way, transmitted through the best mediums. Sounds like a big job, right? These days there are many different ways to go about this lofty task. Social media, online advertising, mobile marketing, traditional media… the possibilities seem endless. Ultimately, the goal is to create something consumers will connect with, not repel away. Therefore, it is crucial to create ads that can communicate in an unobtrusive way, seamlessly blending into the consumers’ world but standing out just enough to catch their interest.
I know this sounds like a lot. But advertisers may have come up with a new solution: Native Advertising. Before diving in, I should probably explain what native advertising is. According to Flip the Media, “Native advertising refers to a specific mode of monetization that aims to augment user experience by providing value through relevant content delivered in-stream. Native advertising is pretty revolutionary because it’s undisguised advertising that people find interesting enough to view, participate in, and share.” Native advertising can include social media posts, sponsored articles in publications, blog posts, and other forms of content creation.
This might help give you a better idea: Pando Daily did a round-up of the best examples of online advertising in 2012, many of which were brilliant examples of native advertising. While many of the examples given are huge brand names — Nike, Oreo, Sharpie — they were all able to successfully create relevant content that translated seamlessly onto their aptly chosen platforms.
However, native advertising can hurt a brand if it doesn’t match up with consumers’ perceptions or interests. Recently, the concept of native advertising was highlighted in the news when a magazine, The Atlantic, posted controversial content sponsored by the Church of Scientology. Readers were outraged and The Atlantic was forced to remove the page, apologize to their readers, and reevaluate their advertising policies.
When done correctly, native advertising can be extremely beneficial to brands and consumers alike. Regardless of The Atlantic’s faux-pas, other online publishers are taking notice of those benefits. The Washington Post recently developed a new program for advertisers called BrandConnect that “lets them act as publishers, creating sponsored articles, videos and other forms of content for distribution on washingtonpost.com“. One particularly interesting feature of this new program is that readers will not be able to comment on the content posted by advertisers.
Love it or hate it, advertisers have found a new, better way to reach their consumers. Personally, I think native advertising is a great step for marketing to move forward with new channels. It adds to the overall consumer conversation, speaking to them directly, instead of jumping up and down in their peripheral vision.