For many business owners, online advertising has traditionally meant banner ads and Pay Per Click campaigns with the likes of Google and Yahoo. While the online space was in its infancy for marketers, this approach was successful.
However, in recent years, consumers have become more discerning about how they're marketed to, and this has resulted in banner ads and PPC campaigns taking a revenue hit. According to a recent article at Smart Insights, global clickthrough rates continue to show unimpressive interaction, with "banner blindness" a key factor in consumers ignoring straight-up advertising.
Instead, social ads and content marketing have started to drive bigger engagement, with consumers increasingly acting upon ads within the likes of Twitter and Facebook, as well as sponsored blog posts from bloggers promoting a certain brand or product.
Yet even these methods of advertising are beginning to be less effective, with reports showing consumers tiring of constant blatant promotion by bloggers, and confusion around disclosure of a paid/sponsored promotion via these channels.
With consumers looking for a better brand experience that doesn't necessitate a barrage of ads, one area that's set to break out in 2014 is that of native advertising.
What Is Native Advertising?
The problem with advertising is it can often seem out of place to the recipient. Mass advertising in particular—print ads or TV ads—is sent out based on attachment to a popular TV show or the reach of a newspaper or magazine. This leads to less relevance for the audience.
Online ads allowed marketers to become more focused, and begin to isolate target audiences based on age, demographic, browsing habits and more. However, this could still lead to irrelevant ads, with ads showing up based on a Web user's browsing history, versus the ad matching the content being viewed. This is where native advertising comes into play.
By matching advertorial to content, the hope is the increased relevance to the viewer results in the desired action for that ad. For example, let's say you're a fan of Ford vehicles. You visit a site like Jalopnik and, while reading about the new Ford F-150, you see an accompanying ad for tonneau covers, or tire pressure monitoring hardware.
By providing complementary ads to an audience on a relevant site, and providing context for the purchase, the chances of the ad being more successful are higher than an ad for toothpaste, for example.
It's this contextual relevance that's making native advertising so attractive to marketers, advertisers and business owners of all sizes. So how can your business benefit?
Native Ads As Content Marketing
As consumer behavior shifts from making a purchase after seeing a brand ad to researching and validating through reading blogs and trusted online media sources, businesses need to think about how they can be a part of that shift.
A particularly effective approach is to partner with bloggers in your industry or niche, and provide relevant advertising opportunities for them where they can also benefit. There are multiple benefits to this method:
- Both the blogger and his or her audience are relevant to your products or services, offering a warmer lead opportunity.
- The blogger is respected by their audience and, as such, offers a higher potential for actions taken (downloads, demos, inquiries, etc.).
- By partnering with a blogger, your business can bypass ineffective ad partners and provide fresh, relevant content direct to the source (blogger and audience).
To help you identify which bloggers are the most relevant to your brand, as opposed to those with a larger audience but less relevance, you can use tools like InkyBee and InNetwork to help you filter out the best matches. These companies also offer excellent support in ensuring the bloggers who are the best fit for you are the ones identified by their technology.
Once you identify the bloggers, take the time to review their blogs and how they traditionally partner with third-parties like your brand. Some may display relevant ads next to an editorial, while some may offer sponsored content. See which works best for the blogger you're looking to connect with and then reach out with your proposal, identifying your budget and goals to ensure the blogger is the right fit from a financial standpoint.
Native Ads And Mobile
As desktop browsing continues to make way for mobile browsing as the preferred source of content consumption, so marketers and businesses need to adapt their tactics to meet this diversifying audience.
Indeed, ComScore predicts that mobile browsing will overtake desktop browsing in the next year.
This opens up a host of different opportunities for businesses to connect with their customers on their chosen mobile platform.
- Facebook reports that mobile ads have contributed more than $1.5 billion in revenue, with much of that coming from targeted, native ads in a Facebook user's stream.
- Social networks Instagram and Tumblr are enjoying profitable brand partnerships through in-line native ads that are part of the user experience.
For businesses already using social media as part of their marketing outreach, the mobile-readiness of these networks make it easy to create in-line ads that will go directly to a targeted customer base (Facebook Ads offer the option to be placed in both desktop and mobile feeds).
Additionally, there are dedicated solutions to help you create a mobile native ad. One such company is Namo Media, which provides a seamless way for you to include in-line ads on mobile apps. Nano Media's templates adapt to your brand's design, keeping ads unobtrusive and a natural part of your customer's experience. If your business doesn't have the scale to build apps, solutions like Conduit Mobile enable you to create inexpensive apps with multiple features and promotional solutions.
Whether you're looking to partner with bloggers and media for native ads through content marketing, or offering a dedicated mobile experience either through existing social networks or a dedicated app, it's clear that native advertising is growing in popularity and effectiveness for marketers and businesses of all sizes.
With budgets increasingly being allocated to native advertising, now might be a good time to start considering how you can use it for your business, before your competitors leave you behind.
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