illustration of two newspapers on the front page, conveying the idea of native advertising

What Is Native Advertising and How Can It Help?

You might not be familiar with native advertising but you’re seeing more and more of it every day. It’s becoming ubiquitous in all kinds of print and digital media and you might not even recognize it as advertising at first. Native advertising knows how you take your content and it’s becoming less and less distinguishable from it.

In Plain Sight

illustration of gentlemen being compared to jester
“Native advertising must match the tone of the publication.”

Native advertising is branded copy that is designed to replicate the type of content with which it is published. [1] For instance, if it appears in The New York Times (yes, The New York Times places sponsored content masquerading as editorials among its storied features), it will be refined. If it appears in The Onion, it will be satirical. If it appears in Buzzfeed, it will be light.

The most successful native marketing possesses a few key attributes: The ad must retain the full integrity of the company’s brand and the advertiser’s identity as well as promote something that is valuable to the audience. [2]

If the ad isn’t synonymous with what you’ve come to expect from the publisher, it will appear out of place, which doesn’t work for native ads. It must be consistent with the content that is typically posted on that platform otherwise, it will likely be tuned out along with the rest of the ads.

Truth In Advertising

Native ads also take the form of advertorials, a longer-form text ad presented in the style of an editorial to casually deceive its viewers. Advertorials present the opportunity for a company to share its special point of view or to inform an audience more fully on what it has to offer. [5]

The Atlantic recently published an advertorial which prominently flopped. It turned out to be a gushing commendation of David Miscavige’s leadership of the religion known as Scientology. Not only was the copy out of line with the narrative that The Atlantic generally sticks to, it was alarmingly impartial. Flanked by links to further pro-Scientology editorials, the campaign crashed and burned and was quickly removed from The Atlantic‘s website. [1]

bottle of snake oil that cures everything with "no" symbolAdvertorials that blur the line between the source of the ad and the publication that places it are best sent back to the editor. Otherwise, both parties risk harming the hard-built rapport between themselves and their respective audiences. Also, I’m sure that the money was great but it’s probably best not to advertise for controversial religions as it may adversely affect your company’s reputation.

Most ads, particularly native ads, should strive to resemble the truth. Any instance of overt deceit, which some advertisers are guilty of, isn’t a good idea when it comes to native ads. No one likes having their intelligence insulted, and when an advertorial diverts from the standard narrative of its publisher to that point, that’s exactly what’s taking place.

Your audience does not take well to being tricked and angry readers won’t open their wallets to the company’s nor the publisher’s services. By design, an effective native ad promotes a product in a way that is genuine and aligns with the platform’s established tone. [1]

Native Advertising Versus Display Advertising

So how do native ads stack up against their more conspicuous counterparts? Frankly, it’s a no-brainer. Did you know that you’re 279.64 times more likely to climb Mount Everest and reach the summit than you are to click a display ad? [3] That’s because no one ever clicks on display ads.

Sharethrough/IPG Media Lab confirmed those findings in a study of their own: Using the latest eye-tracking technology, the study looked at how users interact with native ads versus display ads. It was concluded that users looked at native ads an average of 4.1 times per session while they looked at display ads an average of 2.7 times per session. The difference comes out to 52 percent, a huge margin.

native ads bar graph
“Readers looked at native ads 4.1 times/session compared to only 2.7 time/session for display ads.”

The study also showed that 32 percent of respondents reported that the native ad “is an ad I would share with a friend or family member” versus only 19 percent for display ads. The native ads tested within the study were in-feed, meaning that they occupied the same space as the primary content of the page and maintained the same form, style, and voice as well. [4]

Perhaps the margin between how many times each different type of ad was viewed has to do with user-error in that the respondents were under the impression that the ad was part of the article. That notion might correct some of the margin but not all of it. Its data clearly supports making the switch to native ads in favor of traditional display ads.

Display ads do not fall under the umbrella of native advertising as they do not make an attempt to disguise their intent. They’re artless, and part of that contributes to why they so rarely result in an impression.

The Benefits Of Native Ads

photo of man listening through headphones

Audiences are more jaded than ever before due to the unprecedented influx of new content every day. Content production is only getting bigger, and audiences are constantly inundated by media saturation – each publisher with its own set of ads accompanying their content. [6] Because of this, people are getting better and better at tuning out the noise that they don’t want to hear.

three out of four newspapers representing those that benefit from native advertising
“3-out-of-4 publishers include some type of native advertising on their sites.”

When you’re going online, you aren’t doing it to look at advertisements, so ads must evolve to make you see them. Native ads achieve this end. By occupying the same space of the content that the audience is seeking, the ads accrue more visual traffic and are recalled more favorably than traditional ads found in the banners due to their mimetic nature. [4]

Just as obtrusive pop-up ads were phased out of mainstream digital media in the early 2000s, it’s time for unobtrusive native ads to become the norm. Keeping the audience comfortable regarding their expectations is becoming more of a priority as 3-out-of-4 publishers include some type of native advertising on their sites. [2] For those who don’t, it’s time to get on board or get left behind.

If your ad traffic is slipping and you’re looking for outside help to pick up the slack, consider Mary Pomerantz Advertising. As an award-winning marketing agency, we’re well-versed in native advertising and more than capable of guiding traffic to your site.

Whether your business is just getting into online marketing or you want to gain a deeper understanding of what truly drives traffic, call us today at 732-214-9600 to see what we have to offer.