What are Native Advertising?
It is the next BIG thing. The Most Innovative Content-Style Ad Platform on the Web.
Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. It is a method of presenting online media without disrupting the user experience. The ads follow the layout and functionality of a website in which it is placed.
In the new world of content – the world where all organizations get to produce it – jargon is plentiful. Phrases such as corporate journalism, vendor content, brand publishing and custom content are everywhere.
But where does native advertising play in this mix?
Put simply, native advertising is a sub-set of the catch-all content marketing, meaning the practice of using content to build trust and engagement with would-be customers.
Native advertising can be a promoted tweet on Twitter, suggested post on Facebook or one of those full-page ads between Flipboard pages, but more commonly it is about how brands now work with online publications to reach people.
They’ve long done so, of course, through display advertisements and various other promotions.
The difference between display ads online – the square MPU units, leaderboards that straddle the top of pages and several other industry-standard formats – and native ads is that the latter are in the flow of editorial content.
Those publications that are pioneering native ads are usually good at making sure the quality of the content is high. They won’t just commission content (for money, we should make clear), but work with individual writers or marketers so that it feeds an audience need.
Native Advertising is not Content Marketing
When you see the phrase “native advertising,” what do you think? Do you think of content marketing?
Well, a lot of people do … so much so, that I felt compelled to write an article about it.
Before I go through the differences, let me explain why it’s essential to make the distinction. The words we use are important.
This is native advertising
A directly paid opportunity – Native advertising is “pay to play.” Brands pay for the placement of content on platforms outside of their own media.
Usually information based – The content is useful, interesting, and highly targeted to a specific audience. In all likelihood, it’s not a traditional advertisement directly promoting the company’s product or service.
This is where native advertising looks a bit like content marketing. The information is usually highly targeted (hopefully) and positioned as valuable. But again, in native advertising, you are renting someone else’s content distribution platform (just like advertising), except that you aren’t pimping a product or service.
A quick review
If you pay for placement, it’s advertising.
If you pay for placement of valuable, relevant content in a format similar to the third-party site, it’s native advertising.
If you don’t pay for placement, the content is not advertising.
If that content is valuable and relevant, designed to attract a clearly defined audience, and posted on your own or other unpaid platform, it’s content marketing. Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay to promote your content as part of your content marketing strategy. If you don’t have an audience that is subscribed to receive your content, you should look into paid media as a way to reach a targeted audience.
The next time someone uses content marketing or native advertising in the wrong scenario, please correct the person. Help us all speak the same language and be part of positive change for the world.