It happens every once in a blue moon. You’re on your computer (about to get in your YouTube fix for the day), when you run into a monetized ad. But this isn’t just any click-through diatribe. No, this ad is tailored to your liking. So much so that you forget about the video of the dancing cats in sombreros and get lost in the content-richness of the ad. Welcome to the world of native advertising.
Tom Wasserman of Mashable says, “Native advertising is a mode of monetization that aims to provide value through targeted relevant content.“ In other words, these are ads passing as content. Native ads are designed to look and function like the rest of the site. Content providers that create native advertisements focus on content specific to the information the user is browsing. In the online realm of constant distraction, advertising can get lost.
For native advertising to work, it must follow four key components:
1) The ads blend in with the site branding.
2) It is typically an image, video, post, or streamed content.
3) Users have the option to engage with the content.
4) It is always sponsored content.
Here’s an example: Porsche recently demonstrated a powerful form of native adverting. The company wanted to promote its redesigned 911, so Fast Company devised a co-branded, editorial-driven contest with Porsche as both inspiration and prize. What made this campaign successful was that the design challenge joined creative concepts from multiple designers. Submissions were broad: a kite, a baby carriage, and the winner: a hair dryer that sounded like the 911 Porsche engine.
Twitter’s promoted tweets have also been effective: buying a tweet placement allows further reach. This form of advertising on the digital space has given companies the ability to ride the wave of a popular current event. For example, if a celebrity’s pregnancy announcement trends, a retailer of baby clothing could promote its tweet in the trend’s search.
With the decline of click-through banner ads, native advertising has forced advertisers to redirect their resources when approaching brand engagement content. The pressure on advertisers just as easily applies to the political media and issues industry. Political advertisers in the digital space can apply native advertising by focusing on producing content that invokes emotion. Rather than pushing stodgy issue ads and traditional political ads, advertisers can place creative content that reflects the views and interests of their audiences. This could be achieved by using language and content that places a premium on targeted audience behavior. Ads should be more narrowly focused. They should also reflect timely events, inside and outside of politics—this is how they can stay relevant and top of mind.
An example of a native ad could be a creative feature that would utilize a drop down menu that asks individuals, “What do you expect from your politician?” The user would be able to choose from a various list of nouns that, when compiled, would create a pie chart of how many times said politician exemplified that particular noun. Wouldn’t that be nifty?
The possibilities for native advertising are endless. Advertisers and content publishers are still in the early stages of determining how to best utilize native advertising. But with more consumer involvement, brands creating exceptional content, and discussion among advertorial media, native advertising may well become the standard.
Who knows? Maybe one day, native ads will replace sombrero-wearing cats. We can only hope.