Readers now know they are being sold to.
As new forms of advertising are on the rise, we might not always be aware of the methods that we are marketed to. Trends in advertising come and go, and as we enter 2015 we are seeing the effectiveness of display advertising fall. Whether they are blocking out ads with a browser extension or their own minds, marketers see that the classic display advertising model is failing and are putting faith into a new giant – native advertising.
Content marketing and native advertising is on the rise. BIA/KELSEY reports that native social media adspend sailed to new heights at $2.4 billion in 2014. While there is a scramble to explore new methods, can we say that a technique of this scale is only a fad? Native advertising is hailed to be a game changer in the market, however the results are not always proven.
“Content marketing as a strategy is here to stay. It is becoming the main focus area for marketers worldwide and overshadowing the media strategy ‘native advertising'” – Asaf Hochman
Native advertising is more than a gimmick, and will deliver results as long as it is done effectively. Marketers must look to sustained repeat engagement and better targeting, not just media metrics. Native advertising uphold a few key values as listed below in order to be an effective method to capture an audience. If they fail to establish user trust in this platform, we will see the effectiveness of content marketing go the way of display advertisements.
Users must be made clear of an ad source. If users are frequenting publications only to see endorsements and promotions without any disclosure, the credibility of that publication will diminish. For a website, blog, or magazine to pass off a native advertisement as their own unique content, users will be less trusting in content published by the same source, as it is unknown whether a third party paid to send you that message.
Sponsored Content should remain authentic. This issue stands as more money persists in content creation. Readers are smarter than ever, and if it seems that content lacks authenticity it will show. After a clear disclosure of a third party’s involvement, the reader can then gauge how authentic the content may be.
Ensuring authenticity is vital in the early stages of content creation. Native ads should be created in the mindset of a genuine piece of content. A product review or showcase should highlight positives and negatives of a certain product, and speak in the language of the customer. Readers will be able to differentiate how genuine a writer is, and dismiss the content if it is seen that it is not authentic and just buying advertising space. This is more frustrating to readers as they get the impression that they are being deceived, and they will be lest trusting to native advertising as a whole.
Fake content is obvious. From obvious shill posts to needless product placement, a lack of substance in display advertising will turn off readers immediately. Even after full disclosure and authentic copy, if the native advertisement has nothing useful the user will still move on.
As it stands, sponsored content already only gets 1/3 of the engagement that editorials get. This can be attributed more so to the lack of quality content provided in articles than anything else. Brands must put their best foot forward in what is presented in an ad in order to engage an audience.
Rather than just showcasing a product, give a brief run through of how easy it is to use. Use effective copy writing to tell the story behind the product that will entice a reader and get them to want to learn more. You can even go with the more risky method of writing comical copy that will be entertaining to readers, but still keep their eyes on your display ads.
Native Advertising in 2015
Poor implementation is the biggest roadblock to native advertising breaking through to mainstream success in 2015. Upholding the values mentioned above will ensure a boom for content marketing, and make it a method that is here to stay.
Brands have a bigger opportunity than ever to embrace native advertisement through their own channels and on social media. In 2015 we will see all major brands begin initiatives using native strategy, and ditch the archaic display ads for this. As with everything online, we will see rapid changes and evolution in advertising within the next year – let’s ensure our efforts are not wasted.