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The Natives Are… Advertising?

Native advertising. It’s one of the hot new buzzwords being used to describe a new digital channel. However, it is actually tied to a tried-and-true method of engaging potential customers through educational and informational communications. Taking on the look of an “editorial” wrapper, native advertising is a marketing strategy that has been around since the first paid advertisements were written.

What is native advertising?

Advertorials, edu-tainment, infomercials, sponsored ads and paid-advertisement disclaimers are all forms of native advertising. There are many definitions, although this particular one from Lewis DVorkin, of Forbes, is on point: “A paid-for placement on a digital screen or within a content stream that promotes a brand’s content marketing, much the same way editorial content is promoted.”1 The roots of native advertising can be found in the earliest long-form print advertising executions, especially in the pre-advertising-regulation “Mad Men” era. Here’s an example from May 1962 issue of Mechanix Illustrated. It appears to be an article, but is really an advertorial: “Fastest Way To Grow Hair,” by Robert Brindley.2

The modern form of native advertising can be seen on websites such as BuzzFeed, where “sponsored” examples of native advertising can be seen every day within the queue of featured articles. Such articles include “10 People Who Are Too Ready For Summer,”3 sponsored by Corona, and “13 Travel Tips That Will Make You Feel Smart,”4 by Holiday Inn Express.

In the modern digital world, native advertising is gaining in use against banner advertising. In a recent study by IPG Media Lab and Sharethrough5 (a native advertising media placement provider), the following insights were published:

  • Consumers looked at native ads 53% more frequently than display ads.
  • 25% more consumers were measured to look at in-feed native ad placements (the most common editorial native ad format) than display ad units.
  • Native ads registered 18% higher lift in purchase intent and 9% lift for brand affinity responses than banner ads.
  • 32% of respondents said the native ad “is an ad I would share with a friend of family member” versus just 19% for display ads.

For marketers, these numbers are impressive and compelling enough to gain serious consideration by marketing strategists against or in addition to traditional banner ads. What seems to be at issue for strategic marketers is how and where to plan for native advertising within their content strategies.

What separates native advertising from pure content marketing? What …read more    

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