Native advertising—or content paid for by brands to run in editorial publications to reach would-be customers—is a large subset of the content marketing trend. Unlike display ads, native ads are in the flow of editorial content and, ideally, should drive traffic to the content your brand is creating on your own channels. According to research, native ads are viewed the same amount of time as editorial content and more likely to get shared than other forms of advertising. They may even be more effective than email.
But content needs to align with the publication's editorial standards. After all, the goal for both parties is to produce content that readers find valuable and experiences your customers will actually enjoy. Here are three ways in which brands are making effective use of native advertising and how you can make native ads work for your business:
How you can do it: You can find examples of sponsored blogs on publications across genres. Content is served up in line with the publisher's other articles, as with athenahealth's The Liberation of Medical Data on theatlantic.com, or OFF! Mosquito Repellent's 17 Ways Outdoorsy People Survive the City on BuzzFeed. The first step is to find a publisher that aligns to your content goals. You may find that different publishers serve different purposes for your brand, depending on what kind of content you want to create. Content can have a call-to-action, or it can serve as a pure brand awareness play.
How you can do it: Businesses like Herbal Essence are using Spotify to create virtual mix tapes that capture the brand's personality and reflect its audience's interests. Music is a powerful way to make an emotional connection with your customers. You can tailor playlists to specific moods that customers can relate to, like Carnival Cruise Lines's Summertime playlist. It makes your business more dynamic and moves it toward creating a brand lifestyle—not just selling a product.
How you can do it: Under Armour worked with Funny or Die to create a humorous video that fits the website's tone, while still featuring Under Armour's products, including prominently on Tom Brady. Dick's Sporting Goods, where you can buy Under Armour products, also gets a nice shout out. Video can tell a powerful story in a short amount of time, and is highly sharable; humor only adds to that. And with tools like smartphone cameras, GoPro, and Viddyad, plus the ability to sponsor posts on Twitter and Facebook, your business doesn't need to hire professionals to create and distribute video content.
What native ads have you seen that you think work well—or don't work at all?