This is Part 1 of my 3-part series on Native Advertising. Check out Part 2: Native Ads Bridge the Gap Between SEO, Content & Social Media and Part 3: Native Advertising Cons and Predictions
Native advertising is one of the more popular buzzwords in digital marketing lately. Although it made a quiet debut in 2011, this form of advertising has become increasingly mainstream in the past year, and is predicted to be one of the largest digital marketing trends of 2015.
What Is Native Advertising, Anyway?
Good question. In short – think “advertorial”- though there are differences. Native advertising has many forms, and it is less conspicuous than most other forms of advertising. The very definition is disputed, but in the most basic sense it is branded content that matches the context of users’ experience – it does not look or feel like an ad at all.
This includes advertorials, content amplification through sponsored posts, product placement, search listings, and in-feed ads on social media.
Native Social Media Advertising
Among the numerous forms of native advertising, social media is perhaps the most debated. Some refuse to call sponsored Facebook posts or promoted Tweets ‘native’, because they’re rarely publisher-produced editorial content.
However, editorial content marketing and native advertising are two different things. In-feed ads do fit the broad definition of native advertising in the sense that they are branded content and effectively blend in with their surroundings.
Trend Watch: Native Advertising
Native advertising is catching up – according to this Global Trends in Public Relations Searches report, the significant rise of native advertising in the last year has had a direct correlation to the rise of social media and content marketing.
This comes as no surprise, as brands are turning to social media more than ever to create meaningful engagements with their fans. And although native advertising budgets may remain relatively small in digital advertising for the time being, Ad Age recently reported that a whopping 63% of brands plan to increase their native ad spend for 2015.
In order to maintain relevancy, native advertising on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and several others require real-time monitoring of trends and precise targeting. Tools like geo-targeting, demographics, and interests can be used to serve audiences that will find your ads less disruptive and more engaging – which is what native ads are all about.
Native Ads Go Multi-Platform
Facebook offers several options for campaign types ranging from conversion-driven ads to post-engagement ads – it’s easy to create ads that will engage a target audience while maintaining a not-so-promotional feel. Each of these formats can be shown directly in the News Feed (with a “Sponsored” disclaimer, of course).
Even better, Facebook Developers now offers native ad incorporation within your apps. There is no set template for these – though there are guidelines and certain restrictions. In the same way, LinkedIn and Twitter allow you to create in-stream native ads featuring text, images, videos and links.
Native Advertising Example on Facebook
Photo-centric platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat have an advantage over other sites since photo content is more readily shared. However, buying ad space on them can cost you:
- Instagram tested their premium ad service with 10 select brands in 2013 and executives reported seeing CPMs anywhere from $500K to $1MM per month.
- Snapchat is reported to run at $750K per day for an ad that disappears in a matter of seconds and offers little to no reporting capabilities.
- Pinterest’s Promoted Pins, on the other hand, run on a CPC basis and seemingly have a much more realistic price tag.
There’s a reason that these platforms are more expensive than Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn though – ads on Instagram have a much more realistic look and feel since it is already known for high-quality (almost commercial-grade) photos.
Native Advertising Example on Instagram
Social & Beyond
The content strategy behind native ads leaves social media users with more value than a traditional ad, which is why brands are investing more time and effort in this space.
This is only the beginning – the ever evolving world of native advertising extends far beyond the reaches of social media platforms, and has the potential to transform the way marketers think about their digital marketing strategy as a whole.