Brands striving to reach new audiences are competing for eyeballs amidst a crowded media landscape. They have to think beyond earned media and banner ads. Communicators are wise to expand their reach by incorporating paid digital placements such as native advertisements into their overall marketing/communications mix.
Paid content that mimics the look and feel of the traditional earned content of a news outlet is known as a “native ad” – an advertisement that doesn’t seem like one. Many readers are so accustomed to the commingling of earned and paid or “sponsored” content that they likely cannot readily distinguish between the two and are unbothered by the idea of engaging with paid content. In fact, according to research from the Content Marketing Institute, 87 percent of consumers prefer native ads over banners, and native ads achieve a click-through rate (CTR) 8.8 times higher than regular display ads.
Here are some pointers for successfully incorporating a digital native-ad campaign into your marketing strategy:
Streamline and Amplify the Message
When developing native ad content, marketers do not need to reinvent the wheel. Native ads should dovetail with ongoing thought-leadership and earned-media pitching. The focus should be on amplifying the messages that are already resonating with audiences and packaging them in a way that will be compelling and interesting. This is a more subtle play than hard-sell banner ads that tend to interrupt the reader’s experience with high-pressure sales tactics.
Native ads also differ from standard ads by fitting neatly inside the user's path through a site or app. Native ads allow brands to blend in and make the user feel like the ad belongs on the site and offers valuable information. Keep this in mind as you prepare your content.
Don’t Rely on One Publisher
Once you have developed your content, be thoughtful about how best to leverage it. Depending on whom you are trying to reach, working to place a native ad with only one media outlet may not result in the optimal volume of exposure, or in reaching new audiences.
Marketers also may find that they aren’t able to scale their work with a single media outlet. In other words, the result is an expensive placement that is essentially a “hopeful guess” at reaching the target audience. While the publication’s readership might generally be the right demographic, directly placing a sponsored digital ad with one publisher is similar to placing a print advertisement in only one newspaper.
"Being featured alongside editorial content can inspire trust, pique the interest of your target audience and drive more consumers to your business."
Consider Ad Networks
Many marketing teams are using ad platforms like Outbrain to target specific users across reputable publisher sites like CNN, The Washington Post, TIME, WIRED, and thousands of other trusted websites. These ad networks may incorporate niche sites as well.
Ad network platforms also frequently update how they measure impressions according to current industry standards. This is crucial for understanding the return on investment. As with any campaign, be sure to set measurable goals and key performance indicators. While the typical goal of a native ad campaign is brand awareness, there may also be specific calls to action that can be tracked, such as visiting a website or downloading an app. If there’s an increase in search queries specifically mentioning your brand’s name or products, then you know that your native ad campaign is working.
Marketers should consider incorporating a paid digital component into their overall marketing strategies. Native advertising reaches target audiences in an appealing format and leverages the brands of reputable publishers. Being featured alongside editorial content can inspire trust, pique the interest of your target audience and drive more consumers to your business.