What is native advertising, and how does it work?
Native advertising is "the use of paid ads that match the appearance, form, and function of the user experience in which they are placed." Unlike other tactics, at first glance, native doesn’t appear to be an ad at all!
How does native advertising work? The native ad is designed to blend into the environment of the website or social media platform that features it. For instance, a native ad embedded within a blog post may have a color scheme, typeface, and even message similar to the non-advertising content surrounding it. In fact, some native can be virtually indistinguishable from their context.
Native advertising comes in several forms, including:
- Sponsored content (such as sponsored social media posts)
- Paid influencer content
Since modern consumers have been increasingly skilled at ignoring intrusive, attention-grabbing ads (such as banner ads), many companies have turned to native advertising as a more subtle way to pique their audience's interest in a discreet, "non-salesy" manner.
Now that we've discussed what it is and how it works let's discuss some key do's and don'ts around native advertising.
Do: Know the audience you're targeting
The companies that are most effective at developing and distributing native ads have a firm grasp of who their audience is. They work together with publishers to identify key topics of interest for their consumers and then craft compelling native ad copy designed to engage visitors to the publisher's site.
As with any form of marketing, it's vital to speak directly to your target audience by using the right tone, verbiage, and messaging in your native ads. If you do, you're sure to see a much higher conversion rate compared to ad creative that's not informed by these factors.
Don't: Forget to incorporate a clear CTA
An ad without a clear CTA is like an airplane without landing gear. The fact is, your call to action is the single most important part of your ad. It guides your readers to the next step you desire them to take and gives them a specific path to follow along their customer journey. Without a clear CTA in your ad, consumers are much less likely to convert.
Of course, your CTA should align with the goals of your marketing campaign. Your call to action may be for your readers to follow you on social media, sign up for your email newsletter, visit your site, download a piece of content, or purchase a product. Whatever the case may be, make sure that you include this key element in each native ad you publish.
Do: Tailor your copywriting to the native ad's format
Native ads are designed to blend in with existing content. However, they cannot effectively achieve that goal unless your copywriting adheres to the context in which your ad will be published. For example, if your native ad is placed between two links to news articles, you may want to format your ad copy like a news headline. You don't want to make it too obvious!
Don't: Be misleading
On the other hand, you don't want to mislead your readers about the fact that you're advertising a product or service. Guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stipulate that native ads must state that they're "sponsored." Even though your native ad should blend in, it's important to follow all applicable publishing regulations. (You also don't want to annoy users who may click without realizing it's an ad.)
Do: Be captivating and thorough
The same principles for all types of ad copy hold true for native advertising. You want to develop a captivating headline for your ad, write persuasive copy, and leverage research to make your ad more compelling.
Don't: Neglect to provide value for the publisher, brand, and audience
Your native ads should tell stories that add value to the customer journey — either by informing or entertaining. At the same time, it's important to create a working partnership with your publisher(s) so that both you and they benefit from the ad distribution.
If you conscientiously seek to provide value with each sponsored post and paid piece of content, then your brand's reputation will shine ever brighter. Native advertising is a powerful method of spreading brand awareness and engaging with consumers. It's inconspicuous but effective. When done properly, it can result in an exceptional ROI for your brand.
Do: Partner with a Native Expert for Your Next Campaign
Of course, you may want some assistance from an experienced media partner. At CoxNext, we have both the credentials and the skill set to help you take your paid advertising to the next level — including your native advertising.
We work with a wide range of publishers to distribute native ads for maximum impact, and our team of creative specialists can craft the compelling, persuasive copy you're looking for.