Native advertising is not a new concept. Whether we’re talking about long-form content or infomercials, people are used to being exposed to sponsored content. It was only natural for this form of advertising to spread to the digital space as well.
The Rise of Native Advertising
Native advertising is an excellent way to pull prospects towards your brand without making them feel as if they’re sold to. The ads are not only relevant to the site’s editorial content but also mimic it’s style, blending perfectly with other articles.
Consumers – Millennials, in particular – appreciate this type of branded content. According to one study, young adults are willing to let themselves allured by sponsored content, as long as it’s relevant to the digital environment in which it appears.
It all sounds great in theory. But, according to a recent study, native ads might blend in a bit too much, tricking users into thinking they’re not ads at all.
71% of Native Ads Get a Failing Grade
According to a study conducted by the Online Trust Alliance (OTA), 71% of the top 100 news publishers received a failing grade when it came to clearly marking their native ads, as ads.
Out of the 100 publishers, which included names like Business Insider, ABC News, Fortune, Mic, and The New York Times, only 9% of them did a great job at signaling their native ads appropriately.
The study goes to show that there’s more to native advertising than just high-quality content and social media website shares. After all, it doesn’t matter how hard you’ve worked to create a compelling story around your product, if people aren’t able to differentiate your content from the sea of information available to them.
In addition to excellent storytelling, a good native ad also requires a clear delineation from the surrounding content. The “sponsored” label should be highly visible, as well as the brand logo indicating the sponsor.
What Does That Mean?
The results of the study came at a crucial time for the digital marketing industry. Ad blocking continues to cause headwinds for online advertisers as it growths on both desktop and mobile devices. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB,), more than 26% of internet users in the U.S. alone use ad blockers, and the numbers are expected to grow by the end of 2017.
Another study found that one in five smartphone users have an ad blocker installed – that is a 90% percent increase from the previous year.
Internet users are becoming overly sensitive to online advertising and are looking for every possible way to block unwanted marketing messages. Native advertising was the only real solution publishers had against ad blocking.
So, Is Native Advertising Dying?
Although the results of the OTA study might sound alarming, they don’t proclaim the death of native advertising. Neither brands nor publishers are willing to give up this type of advertising. Although implementation turned to be more difficult than expected, native advertising still holds a lot of value for brands and publishers. As more and more consumers install ad blocking programs on digital display advertising campaigns, the only real way to connect with them is through native advertising.
Not only that brands aren’t giving up on native advertising, but they are ready to increase their spending. According to a BI Intelligence report, native ads are expected to make about 76% of all ad revenue by 2021, a 36% increase from 2016.
How To Make Your Native Ads Work?
As highlighted in the study above, marketers make a lot of mistakes that keep their native ads from being as effective as they can be. So, here’s what works and what doesn’t:
- State That Your Content Is Sponsored
There’s a bit of confusion regarding native ads. In the most basic sense of the term, native ads are defined as advertising camouflaged as editorial content. However, at the same time, you need to clearly mark your content as sponsored so that you don’t confuse the reader. It might seem like a contradiction, but consumers are willing to read branded content as long as it’s relevant to their needs and the digital environment in which they are placed.
- Don’t Mention the Company
Sure, your logo will be placed alongside the content, and you’re going to link to your company’s site, but don’t turn the article into a press release. Even the slightest hint of selling will turn people off, so restrain yourself from mentioning your digital marketing Winnipeg company at all.
- Make Sure Your Ads Add Value
You can’t run an advertisement about pizza on a fitness channel. It’s as simple as that.
Native advertising, at least in the form it’s been used until now, seem to be failing. But, although the data looks grim, brands have yet to lose their confidence in the effectiveness of native ads.