Spending on native advertising is expected to reach nearly $100 billion next year, yet only 47% of marketers are confident that it works. That lack of confidence likely stems from a misunderstanding of what native advertising actually is and how to implement it effectively. And as buyers are inundated with more and more content, getting native advertising right is key to building brand awareness and shaping the buyer journey.
But what does this look like in practice, and should marketers continue to spend money on a practice that they aren’t even sure is working?
What Is Native Advertising?
Native advertising is a type of paid content that lives on third-party sites. It typically mimics the look of the third-party content, allowing it to blend in with the site’s normal content. Native advertisements shouldn’t look like ads and won’t disrupt the user experience, although they should be clearly identified as sponsored content. Instead, they should provide relevant content that will improve the user’s experience in the places they’re already looking for information.
Native advertising can come in several different forms, including social media posts, search results, and blog articles. The format you decide on will depend on where you want to host your ads.
Examples of Native Advertising Formats
- Blog articles
- In-feed social media ads
- Content recommendations
Native Ads vs. Display Ads
While both native ads and display ads appear on third-party sites, display ads are typically more obvious. They focus on brand awareness, rather than solving customer problems or offering thought leadership. Display ads only have so much room, so advertisers have to make sure their brand or product is prominently displayed.
The above image shows an example of several display ads. These would stand apart from the rest of the content, usually in the margins of the webpage. Additionally, they don’t offer much information to the reader — just a call to action or a highlight of a service.
Native ads, while called out as sponsored, should appear similar to non-sponsored content and provide value to the reader or viewer. For example, an HR software vendor might pay for a native blog post addressing the difficulties of onboarding and then providing some tips on how businesses can improve their onboarding process, eventually positioning their software as a solution. Native ads are typically more effective than display ads at generating leads, as long as they are relevant to what the buyer needs.
As you can see in the above image, the middle post is clearly labeled as sponsored, but otherwise, it blends in seamlessly with the rest of the content. This is an example of a TechnologyAdvice native ad currently running on the TechRepublic website. It doesn’t disrupt the reader experience and offers them a solution that they might be looking for if they need security software recommendations.
Why Does Native Advertising Work?
Native ads tend to work due to the fact that consumers look at them more because they’re placed in line with the content they’re already consuming. And while they likely recognize them as ads, consumers usually don’t mind native ads as long as they provide value. Additionally, good native ads typically talk about customer problems instead of focusing on the vendor’s products, making buyers more receptive to the messaging.
Your ads also get boosted by the reputation of the third-party site, so if you advertise on trusted third-party sites, you’re more likely to get quality leads. Naturally, this means your sponsored content also needs to be relevant to the content of the site you’re advertising on. For example, a cybersecurity vendor shouldn’t advertise on a blog about gardening.
Native Ads Help You Meet Buyers Where They Are
Successful native advertising is all about meeting buyers where they are. Buyers are taking over more of the buying journey on their own, meaning they’re likely already researching products like yours on third-party sites. Native ads get your product in front of those buyers to build trust and brand awareness, so when they’re ready to buy, your product is top of mind.
TechnologyAdvice has an engaged audience of over 100 million technology buyers that visit our portfolio of sites to research products just like yours. We can help you reach the right audience at the right time and create engaging content that will resonate with your buyers. To learn more about our native advertising options, contact us today!