Just what is Native Advertising?

Well, this infographic, originating from Solve Media, aims to teach us exactly what it is. They’ve done a good job, as this particular infographic has been popping up on our Flipboard numerous times since it came into existence last year.

There’s been some confusion over what Native Advertising is exactly, and this infographic explains, with no additional ‘fluff’, exactly what its all about-and why anyone who’s anyone in the Internet advertising business should be taking note. In today’s blog, we’re going to take the inforgraphic apart, piece by piece, and discuss it in further detail (because, as you might know, Native Advertising is one of our favourite topics here at NEXI HQ!).

“Nobody reads advertising. People read what they want to read, and sometimes its an ad” – Howard Luck Gossange, 1969

The infographic kicks off with this old, but so relevant it could have been spoken this afternoon, quote from Howard Gossange. Because now, more than ever, consumers can decide what they want to read. Simply, people aren’t drones, and they’ll only spend their precious time focussing on something if it is relevant to them. It’s also a great quote to begin to explain what Native Advertising is, because the very idea is all about giving people what they want.¬†Savvy advertisers have cottoned on to the fact that they are wasting their time (and precious marketing revenue) if their message is not what their audience wants to read. That’s what it is so important that advertising is targeted, and relevant.

The infograpihc explains briefly just how far the internet has come since the days of newsgroups and ‘yahoo chat’. Online websites have evolved, become better, and are bolstered futhermore by online video. Broadband speeds have increased, allowing as to watch live events in real time, and allowing us to stream TV shows. And with all this activity, people are finding they have more and more choice over what they look at online. And this is why, as the piece suggests, user experience has become more and more important. Previously, online advertising was as prehistoric as the dreaded newsgroup, remember those dreaded, annoying, flashing banners which would offer you a discount on something you had absolutely no interet in whatsoever? Native Advertising cuts though all of this, giving web users adverts which are integrated into their online experience. As well as not being irratiing (always a plus!), they can even, dare I say, add to the user’s enjoyment online.

“Add” we heard you cry? “How can an advertisement add to one’s user experience?” Well, we aren’t suggesting ALL forms of advertising online are like this these days – far from it. However, Native Advertising using integrated sponsorship does, in our opinion, add the an end users experience. 70% of agency creatives now recgonise the importance of user experience. When this is supported by user friendly apps, the whole experience becomes far smoother. NEXI followers will know we are huge fans of the online integratied sponsorship model, because it uses trusted presenters to promote products which they really use themselves and believe in. This means that trust is facilitated, and the ad itself is ultimately part of the show.

But back to the infographic, as Native Advertising is far more than only integrated sponsorship utilising video (although we think, this is the best example of the model). Native Advertising also is related to sponsored tweets, sponsored facebook stories, and paid discovery. It’s related to longer form web video, web films, photo streams, and calls to action/’sponsored by’. What is the same, across the board, however, is that this type of advertising is intelligent, because it is specifically targeted. And it’s just as well, because traditional forms of advertising are fading away, as the infographic reveals. The click through rate enjoyed by banner ads has plummeted to a dismal .2% in 2012 from 9% in 2000. Need I say more – today’s savvy Internet user will not be fooled by a pop up. In fact, they are more likely to leave the site it is placed on entirely.

As with everything however, there are challenges for Native Advertising’s adoption. Whilst it is clearly the way forward, there are some pitfalls, which the infographic draws our attention to.

First up, its ‘Ad Standards‘. There are currently no set standards or performance benchmarks for this form of advertising.

Secondly, ‘Product Efficiency’. Native Advertising is not the easy way out – it requires creative management to tailor content that’s best suited to the user. So – you need to really know your market.

Third up, ‘User Trust’ – there’s a need to build and maintain trust with users, and this, bizarrely, is about being upfront and not disguising your ad as something other than an ad! Confused? Well, ads can work beleive it or not, but honesty is the best policy. So Native Advertising doesn’t attempt to¬†deceive. For example, NEXI’s integrated sponsorship model involves products actually being introduced to the viewer by a trusted presenter. So its an ad…but not as you have seen in the past.

And finally…. ‘Brand Integrity’. Now is not the time to run into the sunset with just any content creation partner. If advertisers truly value their brand, its absolutely essential they work with content providers who provide content which matches the quality and ethos of their product and brand image. So, prestigious brands will not want to be affiliated with poor quality content!

These challenges require a bit of forethought, however they are actually the reasons why Native Advertising is so effective. A bit of thought and consideration for end users, ultimately, serves to benefit advertisers in the long run, and not anger their target audience!

So, how does one strategise this minefield? Well, Solve have attempted to help us out with that one too. They suggest engaging communications teams to roll out long term strategies, augmenting content creation by working with talented writers, designers and so on, and finally contracting with outside companies – creative agencies, content marketers, for example.

There we go, Native Advertising isn’t that hard to figure out. Ultimately, its not an easy way out, however forging a close relationship with consumers, and giving them what they want in terms of promoting products and providing content, is a far more effective tactic today. After all, if advertisers and content creators fail to work together to provide stellar content that’s targeted, their audience will simply spend their time elsewhere.