Going Native: three reasons marketers are embracing native advertising

Native advertising is big business, and a valuable tool for brands looking to market their product offering to targeted audiences. There are three key reasons marketers are embracing native advertising;

1. It has viral potential

2. It can drive growth

3. It builds relationships

This week OTB is looking at the logic behind these claims, which brands are buying in to native advertising, and why native shouldn’t be confused with content.

A little context

Often confused with content marketing, native advertising is not new. If you’re not completely clear on the differences, CMI’s Joe Pulizzi’s LinkedIn article is a great place to start.

For The Drum, although the term native advertising was first coined in 2011, its concept dates back over 100 years to when a special interest magazine blended it’s product advertisements seamlessly into its editorial copy.

More extensive than the likes of Google PPC ads but arguably less organic than original content, for The Guardian the key is for native advertising to be ‘in the flow of editorial content’ and ‘feed an audience need’.

So why are marketers embracing native advertising, when they could create content marketing for free?

1. It has viral potential

The potential of native advertising to go viral is high, according to a recent article by The Guardian.

The Guardian claims that ‘according to research from IPG media lab, native ads are viewed for the same amount of time as editorial content and are much more likely to be shared than a banner ad’.

It is argued that it is this propensity to go viral that gives native advertising the edge over editorial content and even sponsored advertising. This scale and potentially global reach is central to the value placed on native, and makes the cost involved worthwhile for many marketers.

2. It can drive growth

According to an article published by Marketing Week last week, native advertising can be a useful tool for marketers looking to drive growth and increase sales with their strategy.

Using the case of M&S as an example, who have been struggling to revive their fashion offering for many years now, it is argued that native advertising is a great tool for adopting a different and fun tone of voice, promoting authenticity and even inspiring new products.

Nathan Ansell, M&S’ global director of loyalty, insight and customer analytics, has argued that  ‘native advertising is increasingly important to returning its [M&S’] general merchandise division to growth’.

Through clear objectives such as this, Marketing Week believes it is possible to make native advertising a worthwhile venture for major brands looking for long term benefits.

3. It builds relationships

A recent article published by the Harvard Business Review somewhat contradicts the wisdom that native advertising is worth the cost.

Written by Florida-based content marketing firm Fractl (and openly acknowledging their inherent preference for content), the article argues that content offers marketers benefits that native does not. An increased organic search ranking or cross-platform reach are among the benefits lacking in native content.

But HBR argues if building relationships with specific publishers is what you’re looking for, native is the route to choose. It is claimed ‘for some firms with large budgets, the expense is worth it if it means aligning their brand with a high-authority publisher and the right niche’.

While organic content may be less costly, when used in conjunction with a focused strategy native content still has its place in the marketing mix. Whatever your aim, it seems as long as you are clear on the goals you want to achieve, native advertising can deliver good return on investment for marketers.

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