Return of the Native (Advertising)

The “advertorial” is arguably one of the oldest methods of marketing, characterized in memory by article like the one below – cheesy, overt content that barely masks its intent to sell.

But native advertising as a whole is experiencing a renaissance as a revitalized trend in 2017. In the age of the ad blocker, marketing content that adds value and blends in with the user experience is critical, far more so than page takeovers or pop-ins that are so dreaded by consumers. The trick to successful native advertising is adding value.

No one likes to feel as though their time has been wasted. Think of Ralphie in the holiday class A Christmas Story, and his disappointment when he got his first Little Orphan Annie Decoder message and it was just a “crummy commercial”. The first and foremost question on a marketer’s mind when working on native advertising should be “How will this add value for the consumer?” The answer to this question can be informed by your understanding of your audience and their priorities. For example, an automotive manufacturer may create a story surrounding the use of new bluetooth technology in vehicles as a means of reaching tech-savvy consumers.

Transparency is also key. Getting to the end of a piece only to discover it’s an advertorial can foster a sense of resentment, which means calling out brand authorship or sponsorship of a piece from the outset is a smart move. It may turn off some readers, but a disinterested party is easier to win over than a frustrated consumer. More to the point, if you’re continually focused on creating value for the reader, your content will still be viewed as worthwhile regardless of whether its ultimate goal is to inform or sell.

Within the next year, revenue from native ads is estimated to reach $20.9 billion, which means now is the time to build an effective native advertising strategy. When you prioritize value and transparency, you’re paving a better path to success.

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