Native advertising is a concept that at least during the past few years, got into the mainstream and it seems to be on everyone’s lips. Marketers and advertisers continue to invest time and money in it and it seems to work, at least for now.
How effective are these types of ads and how can they be integrated into small business’ marketing/advertising strategy? With this article, I am going to try and answer these questions and shed some light on the entire concept.
Now, let’s start with the basics:
What is native advertising?
Basically, native ads are a form of paid advertising that is designed to match the look and feel of the website they are being published on or the media format in which they appear. They are frequently used on social media channels but you can find them as well on web pages, as recommended content.
Why are they better than traditional ads?
Well, the most important fact regarding native ads is that they don’t look like ads at all. This is the major difference between them and the banner ads. They are disguised as regular content and most of the times, they carry value to the audience, just like any other article, blog post or social media post would.
Here’s an example of a really simple native ad from the Microsoft news feed:
You can see that the article carries a “sponsored” tag.
However, if you don’t pay attention to the feed, you might not notice it and click on the link based on its title and assume it is just another blog post or news article.
Is native advertising effective?
Online advertising is all about strategizing and prioritizing. Also, the content itself counts big time, considering that native ads are designed to mimic traditional content and attract users via valuable information. In many ways, native advertising is similar to content marketing and this is why, as long as you are able to come up with something interesting to say, you can get a higher ROI than if you would have been publishing traditional ads.
Plus, there is yet another issue you have to deal with regarding online advertising: the so-called “banner blindness”. This idea refers to people usually overlooking banner ads and other types of ads that are presented to them in an obvious matter. You can fight this problem but there are only two effective options available. You can either create invasive ads like pop-ups or, you can create ads that are more relevant to the general audience, your target group.
It’s quite obvious that the latter is the better since as a promoter, you want the audience engaged for the long run and not just for a one time.
Why do these ads perform better than traditional advertising?
Well, here’s the deal. Take another look at the example I have included in the previous chapter.
Look at how the ad is integrated into the original feed and how it looks like. Then, take a look at the following ad:
Which one of them do you consider to be more alluring? On which one of them are you more likely to click?
Let’s take a quick look at another type of native ad. This time, it is not even marked as sponsored content, information which is available only if you are willing to click on it and get to the article page.
As you can see in the next screenshot, after clicking on the ad, the information about who sponsored the content is available next to the title.
The above native ads examples show us exactly why marketers and advertisers are using this type of approach to advertising these days. Also, you should consider the wide usage of ad blockers as yet another good reason to create and publish native ads.
Almost 70 million Americans used ad blockers in 2016. The figure rose to a staggering 86.6 million in 2017 and the trend is ascending.
It’s no wonder why native ads are a great choice for advertisers nowadays. They are not intrusive, they are focused on adding value to the user and in many cases, they focus on customer experience and not on just sending out a simple and basic message.
According to a study published by Sharethrough.com, native ads register an 18% increase in purchase intent and a 9% lift on brand affinity.
Moreover, 32% of the respondents admitted native ads represent a form of content they are willing to share with friends and family.
Are native ads effective on mobile as well?
What are mobile native ads? Who pays for them? And also, why pay for such a content in the first place?
Well, I am going to answer all these three questions right now. Mobile native ads are no different than the desktop native ads we’ve already talked about. As for the marketers who are paying for them, rest assured that they are the same marketers and advertisers who are also paying for desktop ads.
Why? Well, consider this: Mobile accounts for almost 60% of all Internet traffic.
Moreover, it is predicted that by 2020, the majority of mobile ad revenue will come from native advertising.
Social media plays an important role as well when it comes to native advertising on mobile devices. For instance, Facebook has 1.74 billion mobile users per month and Instagram, which is a mobile-based social platform, accounts for more than 800 million active users as well.
So, how can you use native ads for your small business?
We’ve already established the fact that native ads are a great way of conducting advertising on the desktop and mobile devices. We know for sure that they perform better than traditional advertising and that the audience reacts better as well to them.
Considering that you need to market your small business, what are your options? How can you make use of this type of ads?
Let’s start by talking a little bit about how native ads can help you in the first place. Here are your options based on the strategy and of course, your goals:
- Native ads for customer acquisition
- Native ads for customer conversion
- Native ads for brand awareness
- Native ads for customer retention
Each of these options is important at one point or another during your business’ life. It’s important to know that you can get all of these via native ads and even more, should you consider including them in your strategy.
Here are some tips regarding the things that need to be done:
Before actually embarking on an advertising endeavor, make sure your brand is 100% web ready. Be present on social media, create a website and a blog, communicate with your audience and pay attention to their requests. Also, it is important to create a brand visual image that will set up the environment for everything you do from now on. A great starting point would be to create a relevant and attractive company logo. And, as a small business, if you do not want to invest a great deal of money for it, try using a professional third party design service such as Tailor Logo.
Now, let’s move on a point some of the most important steps you need to consider:
1. Choose the correct platform for your target audience
One of the most important things at this point is to know your audience. Find out where they are spending their free time, what they read, the channels they use etc. If you are targeting a demographic group that spends most of their time on Facebook, for example, then Facebook should be your main channel. It is important to make sure you are not wasting your money on channels or platforms that your target audience is not using.
2. Study the audience and try to adapt to what they like
Before paying for sponsored content, make sure you have the content your audience will dig. You will learn a lot about this by analyzing the platform, the published articles and posts and how many likes. Shares or views they receive. A popular social media post will have a lot of shares and likes while a popular blog post will have a lot of comments and social media shares as well.
3. Start small and expand as you learn
Create content regularly. You don’t have to pay for each one of your posts to be published as sponsored. You can start small, and grow your investment in time after you get used to the audience and the type of content they like. You will learn as you go and therefore, you don’t need to panic should your results will be less than expected at first. As long as you commit to improving your strategy, in time, you’ll get better and better results.
4. Use compelling ad copy and great images
Native advertising is a natural extension of an ongoing content marketing strategy. As a consequence, the content itself is the central piece de resistance on which everything depends on. If your channel of choice is, for instance, a social media platform, the visuals will become even more important. Fortunately, you can use the Bannersnack advertisement maker not only for banner ads but for social media native ads as well. All you need is a great copy and some inspiration.
5. Don’t stick to a single platform
You want to reach out to as many users as possible, am I right? Well, you won’t be able to do so should you stick to a single platform, whether it is a social media channel or a content delivery/advertising network. Audiences spend their time across the web. Therefore, it is important to advertise on multiple platforms, especially in the beginning, when you need to identify which channel performs the best for your small business.
6. Judge your success in terms of engagement
I know, it’s really hard to resist the temptation of counting the shares and the likes your posts receive on social media. Or, the number of page views they had on different blogs and websites. However, in order to be certain your advertising campaign was successful, you need to count the actual engagement rate of your audience. Ask yourself questions such as: How many new clients do I have? How many people registered on my company’s website? Do I notice an increase in sales?
Native advertising is one of the best ways to conduct online marketing. They are cheaper than traditional ads and they convert better due to the fact that they add value to the customers instead of transmitting dull commercial messages.
Did you try native ads yet? What are your results?