Native advertising became the buzz word in digital media in 2013, but what is it?

There isn’t one agreed definition of Native advertising, but most people at least agree on the principle, which is content created by a client which enhances the  consumers experience within a media owners platform. The brands messages should be linked to the content and should feel seamless.

Traditional content-led media owners should be well placed to lead the trend in Native advertising, as they have  highly experienced content creators who are are adept at creating content that inspires, engages and educates readers and users.

What media sales teams need to consider when developing Native formats?

1. Brand Fit- the synergy between the publisher’s site and the media owner must be perfect. If users feel that a brand has been shoe-horned into native they will see through it and it will devalue the concept.

2. Quality- the strength of a strong media brand lies in the quality of its content. Brands need to appreciate this and be prepared to invest in content that reflects the values of the publishers it wants to associate with.  Advertorials which are perhaps the pre-cursor of Native advertising, started as high quality features but in recent years have often been reduced to pack shots created by clients and dominated by client messages & logos rather than focusing on content of most interest to readers.  This change has on the whole been driven  by clients wishing to reduce costs.  If Native takes the same route over time then its value to brands will diminish. Ideally publishers would create the content on behalf of clients for their platforms, if that is not an option then clients need to ensure that the people they employ to develop their content are leaders in their field at developing content on the subject and for specific audiences.

3. Metrics- whilst in 2013 Native advertising was developing as a format clients were more interested in understanding their knowledge of the format. This year we can expect clients to be more interested in the role it performs as part of its overall marketing strategy. Media sales teams who set targets/KPI’s for the performance of their Native campaigns will steal a march on those who are not set up in this way. Creating case studies of effective campaigns will also help persuade those clients yet to embrace the format, of the merits of Native advertising.

Whilst no one knows how long the trend for Native will continue, there is no doubt in my mind that publishers who can create ‘world class’ content for brands and deliver it to an engaged and relevant audience at scale will build substantial revenues from clients who value strong, enduring relationships with potential consumers.


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