We like buzzwords. And so far 2014 has given birth to some pretty cool ones. We've seen the word 'selfie' become part of our everyday vocabulary (you know you've made it when you're included in the official scrabble dictionary), read about how 'neuromorphics'
can bring Terminator's Judgement Day to life, and native advertising... Ok, native advertising might not be so new, but in the marketing world it's becoming one of the most hyped and used buzzwords this year.
The rapid growth of content-focused websites, such as Buzzfeed and Vice, has led to an overnight surge in popularity of native advertising as brands try to piggy back on the popularity of these content-sharing websites to connect with their online audience in an organic way. And it's more than understandable too; one of the most popular native ads by book publisher Harper Collins drove 717,990 social interactions including 91,000 shares on Facebook to date with its "17 Problems only book lovers will understand"? native ad.
Don't tell Don Draper, but as consumers we're becoming more and more frustrated with advertising, as brands nonchalantly broadcast their message to consumers across traditional, online and social media, often disrupting the audience's viewing habits. Online audiences are time poor during the day and want a 30-second break from reality - so when YouTube or Mail Online forces users to watch a 30-second advert, most users have switched off after five seconds and go back to work. Money down the drain, as these techniques will only offer diminishing returns. Which is where native advertising comes in.
So what is native advertising and how can it help switch your audience back on? In a nutshell it's advertising that matches the format and context of the surrounding content, that's hosted by a media partner, most popularly on Buzzfeed and originally on Funny or Die. This doesn't mean that it's something that's as brash as an advertorial, slapping the brand right across your face. In fact it's something completely different. Native advertising is all about brands creating some awesome kick-ass content that aims to encourage social sharing that will positively influence your audience. It's not cheap though.
Following the K.I.S.S rule (keep it simple, stupid) some of the most successful native ads have also been the most modest, whilst at the same time emphasising brands' business propositions. By understanding what their audience wants, and targeting the bored-at-work category with inspiring picture galleries, life-changing recipes or nostalgic content (all relevant to a particular brand campaign) brands that provide valuable content for their audience will receive the most social shares, allowing them to tell their brand stories to the masses via social.
If you get it right, the possibilities with native advertising are endless. With your branded content, and messages, being organically shared on social media, you'll be able to build your social community and grow social equity, increasing your audience engagement on social media and helping to meet your overall business goals. By creating unique content you'll add value to your audience's lives and influence what they think about you.
Here's some great examples of brands adding value by creating really exciting content.
Healthcare.gov - Between Two Ferns with Barack Obama
Harper Collins - 17 Problems only book lovers will understand
Asda - Which barbeque food are you?
Mini - 25 places that look not normal but actually are
It's becoming apparent that native advertising will offer the most ad revenue growth for publishers over the next three to five years, with 84% of publishers believing that native advertising adds value for customers. Clearly it's a growing trend that will continue to develop. It will completely change the online media landscape and how brands and agencies formulate their social media and overall marketing strategies, blurring the line between the two.
The future is bright. The future is native advertising.
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