Native Advertising: What is it and why aren’t more brands doing it?

Does native advertising work?

It’s a question we hear a lot at the moment.

From our perspective the short answer is… Yes. Definitely!

I’ll go into that more a bit later, but right now I want to look a bit more at native advertising as a concept and why it’s a step away from a traditional advertising model.

As an agency, we’ve been managing native advertising campaigns for a number of years and we’re still shocked at the number of brands that aren’t utilising a native advertising model.

There appears to be a great deal of mixed opinion when it comes to native advertising. Some people believe that it’s a misleading form of advertising (and we believe it certainly can be if approached in the wrong way), and some believe it negatively impacts the quality of content on a publisher’s site.

On the more positive side, many people prefer it to traditional advertising because it provides a greater depth and quality of information (if approached correctly), and a lot of people also prefer it because brands are engaging with them as opposed to simply selling.

What is native advertising?

Now, you may be reading this and wondering what the hell native advertising even is.

To give you an idea, I’m going to quote Wikipedia’s brief definition because I believe it sums it up quite nicely.

“Native advertising is a type of advertising, usually online but feasibly elsewhere, that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears.”

For example, if you were to run a native advertising campaign on the Huffington Post website, you might write an article or publish a video about your product or brand as opposed to simply buying ad space and displaying a digital display ad.

You’re still paying for space, but you’re delivering content as opposed to banners.

The current state of advertising

Native advertising appears to have risen out of a need for change.

We’re marketing in a time where industry average click through rates are plummeting at free fall speed and advertising costs are skyrocketing.

People aren’t engaging with advertising the way they used to. In fact, we’re using terms like “ad blindness” and “ad blockers” more and more frequently as people increasingly reject traditional advertising from their lives.

Until now, the response from brands, big and small, has been to increase ad budgets year after year to chase a dwindling ROI.

Meanwhile, the rise of content marketing and the amazing levels of audience engagement content marketers are achieving, has led to native advertising, something that could be seen as a hybrid of the two approaches.

It should also be noted here that there is a great deal of disagreement over whether native advertising should be classified as advertising or content marketing.

For example, Joe Pulizzi from the Content Marketing Institute passionately states that native advertising is advertising and should not be confused with content marketing in any way.

Whilst I don’t believe the distinction is as clear cut as he makes out, I can understand his point of view. However, that’s an article for another day.

Does native advertising actually work?

As I stated earlier, yes it does. Well, for us at least.

At Dialect we’re in the fortunate position of working with some big brands. These are brands that have spent, and continue to spend, large sums on traditional paid media and are now working with us to utilise a native advertising model to operate alongside.

This gives us a direct comparison.

To give you some idea in terms of numbers, this is what we’re seeing from native advertising compared to the more traditional forms of paid media.

  • Click through rates from native ads are 1400% higher
  • Bounce rate of clicks from native ads is more than 30% lower
  • People visiting from native ads view twice as many pages
  • People visiting from native ads spend more than 3 times as long on your website

These are impressive numbers that highlight the fact that people engage with native advertising far more than they do with traditional digital advertising.

The additional benefits of native advertising

Digital advertising has a short lifespan. It lasts as long as an impression or a click, and although you can pay to have that ad shown repeatedly, once it’s viewed or clicked on, it disappears.

This is where a lot of the additional benefits of native advertising become apparent.

Brands who adopt a native advertising model can expect to enjoy the following benefits and advantages.

  • SEO uplift (backlinks to your site will be placed on some of the largest publisher sites on the web)
  • Longevity (once content is published it can theoretically stay on a publisher site forever)
  • Social sharing (content can be shared on social media platforms which greatly increases the potential for greater organic reach)
  • Brand association
  • Publishers will usually share your content with their social media followers, which in the case of big publishers, is millions

So as you can see, there are some amazing benefits to adopting a native advertising model. Benefits you’d normally invest a great deal in to obtain individually.

So why isn’t every brand out there taking advantage of native advertising?

I’ve covered the advantages and added benefits, now it’s time to talk about the potential downside of native advertising and why there aren’t many brands taking advantage of it.

The primary reason is… It costs more.

Content placements on large media sites and web properties cost a lot more than ad space. Large media brands are aware of the added value provided through native advertising, and because of this, they charge a premium.

You also have the additional investment of creating high quality content to publish on these major sites.

If you’re paying top dollar for content placement, you don’t want to publish any old rubbish on those channels. It would be damaging for your brand, and your media partners probably wouldn’t publish it anyway.

The creation of quality content takes time, money and careful planning.

Obviously, native advertising doesn’t have to be done on the world’s largest media sites. You could pick some sites lower down the pecking order and closer to your niche. This will help reduce your costs but will also reduce your level of coverage.

How to approach native advertising

If you’re working in the marketing or advertising department of a company, and you’re seeing your ad performance nosedive, I imagine this article may have piqued your interest.

This is why a number of big brands have come to us.

The way we’d approach native advertising in that scenario, is to take a portion of your ad budget and experiment.

Pick out some media properties on the web that have substantial readerships and buy some placements, produce some high quality articles with strong call to actions and links to your site, and then publish and monitor the results.

I can almost guarantee that the results you see will smash the performance of your traditional digital advertising efforts as you’ll be engaging with an audience in a way that traditional advertising simply can’t compete with.

Want some help?

Here at Dialect we work with some very big brands when it comes to native advertising.

We not only take care of the media buying process that’s involved, we also produce world class content to publish on those channels that’s created by experts in your niche.

We hire journalists, videographers, photographers, designers, and anyone else that can make your content sing to an audience.

As a result, across our client base we’re outperforming traditional digital advertising by 15 to 1 when averaging all KPIs and metrics.

Native advertising works. It’s as simple as that.

If you’d like us to do the same for you, get in touch with us, we’d love to have a chat.

Thanks for reading.

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