Is native advertising the next big thing?

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Image courtesy of Keith Allison at Flickr.com

Today you can easily be navigating a website and not even realize it, but instead of content you may actually be looking at advertising. Known as native advertising, they are ads that are included in what seems to be a content page, but are in fact woven into the site. In most cases customers will be none the wiser and this has generated every kind of response from anger to laughter to shock. And so the debate begins: is native advertising a flop or the future of marketing.

In contrast with content marketing, native advertising has the goal of brand awareness and social engagement, whereas the content marketing is looking for search engine rankings and conversions. The biggest benefits to content marketing is increased organize rankings, drive brand awareness and optimized for conversion, in native advertising on the other hand the benefits are to drive brand awareness and engagement. They both have certain disadvantages like securing publisher partnerships and requires long-term investment for content marketing and for native advertising it can be quite costly to scale, the “sponsored” tag is perceived as an ad and the lack of SEO benefits.

Some may say that native advertising is a fad that has already lived its day and will no longer have room in the marketing world. But others insist it’s just getting started. Native ads can come in a lot of shapes and sizes. Since native ads blend in so well with the content it can be difficult to determine what’s real content that can be helpful and what’s simply being said to sell us something.

Native ads can be mixed with sponsored content or promoted posts. These are interstitial ads that pop up in Facebook feed or Twitter page that are trying to guide you towards people or brands that you might be interested in. On some pages they may get away with this by trying to match content in articles or videos with the promoted spot, this way encouraging users to click on them. The results of using native ads have been incredible and compared to the 0.02% of the past. Many different websites are starting to use native ads like Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, Forbes and Mashable. All of these sites have taken advantage of the new trends and are adapting them to see the results.

Now, as we said in the beginning there is another side to Native advertising. You may take on a client that wants a sponsored piece on your page, but it turns out that they don’t have the best reputation at the moment. By putting on your site a piece on a client, you are telling the world that that is your voice, your real opinion, which may put you in a tight spot. Especially if all of sudden people start recognizing the native ads and speak up about it. While others have great success because they knew how to choose just the right platform, despite the fact that their message may be controversial.

Choosing your platform will be essential to get your message across, without raising anger or outrage. You can either include a native ad in an editorial or social media, so you must analyze how you want to promote your ad, and whether you want an open or class model to content promotion. A closed platform will let you share content and promote it in a single web or mobile site. On the other hand, an open platform will allow you to share the same content on multiple publishers. In the editorial-type category you will find pages like Pulse, People, Glam, Quartz and Vox as perfect options for an editorial spot. As an ad platform you’ll find some like Disqus.

After deciding on the platform, you’ll have to keep in mind that native advertising is not a press release, so this is not the opportunity to oversell your products to everyone. Instead you should be discussing true stories or case studies. Take time to learn from the best, by checking what others are doing and learning from them. There are big organizations out there that have become experts in using native ads in different media, so why not follow in their steps and find out what’s happening out there and learn what to do with you misleading posts. Finally, the customer will also mark a difference as to which platform is for you. Will they find the information you’re posting interesting, annoying or informative? On all of the above mentioned you’ll have to consider the importance of gauging your audience beforehand, just to see if it will have the response you expect it to have.

The debate will continue to be open until native ads become more well-known as a recognized marketing strategy that will bring readers organically to your page and even get them to click on desired ads on the page.

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