The Native Advertising Hype

Native, native, native. It’s a word, dare we say it – over used, in advertising and marketing. A simple Google search for “native advertising” yields 243M+ results, with the latest published within hours of our search. What does it mean? What does it do? Native advertising is the practice of using content to build trust and engagement with your target audience.

With so much swirling around about this new marketing tactic, we attended a panel discussion hosted by BIMA Boston, with moderator and head of Digital Brand Initiatives at IAB, Peter Minnium. Panelists included Mike Dyer of The Daily Beast, Lindsay Nelson of Slate and fellow media industry folks Sean Corcoran of MediaHub/Mullen and Sonny Kim of PGR Media. Here are our thoughts on what you need to know:

Emphasis on content creation. Creating engaging and high quality content that resonates with your target audience is crucial to native advertising, because in today’s world there is infinite space but not infinite interest.[1] The “best” content incorporates both key business challenges, as well as the target audience’s pre-existing behaviors. We can always create a native experience, but the viewer is ultimately who determines if it is a native ad by engaging.[2] Sonny Kim noted that, “It’s the role of the agency work collaboratively with clients to create the content that they deserve!”

Disruptive versus Non-Disruptive Ads. Interruption-based marketing can be an annoyance to the consumer, and not the best choice for marketers as audiences have the ability to fast-forward through commercials or bypass unwanted ads. Using native ads, publishers and advertisers can work to gain the trust of their consumers by integrating content into a platform so that viewers simply feel that the ad belongs.[3] For example, you may see a promoted Tweet from a brand you don’t follow as you scroll through your Twitter feed.

What will happen to CTR? CTR was the topic of much debate among the panelists as they discussed whether or not the usage of native advertising would diminish the value of CTR. Peter Minnium argued that CTR will soon become irrelevant due to the fact that the native experience cannot be properly measured by a click. The panelists did not reach a conclusion on the best way to measure ROI of native ads, but some alternative tools that can be utilized are post impressions, time on site and engagement. NorBella takes post impression activity, time on site and engagement rates, just to name a few, into consideration. (We could go on and on about this, it’s worth its own post!)

Is Going Viral the End-Game? There tends to be the assumption that native advertising only aspires to generate that “next best thing,” especially by leveraging the organic power of social media. We don’t think that content always has to be in real-time, but thinking strategically about your ad placement is certainly important. Native advertising can still be highly successful if it addresses a consumer need or pre-existing problem, and connects to that consumer. Content shouldn’t be created with a goal of going viral. If you do something great enough, consumers will connect with it!

While the native advertising landscape is continually evolving, we completely agree with Sean Corcoran, who noted, “Native advertising is a tool, an innovative solution to a business problem.” We are excited for the collaboration that it will create across the industry and within our own agency as we work in stride to build campaigns and content for our clients.