The Wikipedia definition of native advertising is “a form of online advertising that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears”. This is indeed true. But it is also so much more. A relative newcomer to the South African market place, native advertising is still largely misunderstood, writes Andrea van den Bergh.
In essence, native is not a brand or product push, but a topical content piece produced by a ‘native’ editorial team. If produced properly the rich content delivers a subtle brand association for the advertiser while offering the reader real editorial value. Native brings to the online advertising table the promise of credibility, engagement and powerful results, which establish invaluable brand trust and conviction.
It sounds like a relatively simple (but persuasive) idea. So why is it still misunderstood by advertisers and (in some cases) publishers? And why is it still being compared to the lower priced “in-feed” ads and client articles/advertorials/ads?
An article written by global digital marketing industry veteran and visionary, Rob Rasko, he speaks about the fact that “Differentiating between ‘native’ and ‘in-feed’ ads is key to delivering a true premium ad product that’s worth a higher price”. His article inspired me to explore the need for an understanding of how native differs and why it is pegged at a premium price.
To quote Rasko, “Because native campaigns require a high degree of customised creative content and execution, the work leading up to a true native campaign separates this form of digital advertising from ads that are solely in-stream. What has been proven time and time again is that native ads work. They are high quality, increase engagement, and do not interrupt the consumer experience or take the consumer off of the publisher’s site.”
This struck a chord with me. In our experience of creating, writing and filming native content at The SpaceStation with News24, the time and effort taken to come up with and put together appropriate and exciting topics and messaging that align themselves with the clients’ required messaging, is substantial. Native is providing brands with a powerful distribution vehicle for brand content, and the success its credibility and increased consumer and brand engagement achieves, is immense. More and more clients are realising this and are making native part of their marketing strategies as a result.
A study by IPG Media and Sharethrough that looked at behaviour towards and perceptions of native advertising showed that consumers will look at native ads 52% more frequently than standard ads. They also registered an 18% lift in purchase intent. The strong statement was made in this study that native ads were consumed in the same manner as editorial – backed by the statistic that consumers looked at original editorial content (1.2 seconds) and native ads (1.0 seconds) for a similar amount of time. This drives home the importance of the ‘native’ editors of the publication creating Native content and hosting it in a contextually relevant section that blends organically with site, so that is often hard to distinguish from editorial content.
The other side of the native coin is reach. News24 has the luxury of not only having credibility, but also enormous reach being the largest news website in the country. Strategically, when we craft our native content we plan for an extended offering across web, mobile web, mobile app and relevant social media platforms, and as well as the other 24.com sites. The content is also shared with the client so that the brand can use it across their platforms – ensuring maximum reach for each piece. The IPG Media and Sharethrough study show that 32% would share native ad content with a family or friend. This is a statistic that we are seeing mirrored in consumer engagement with the native campaigns that we have run.
In addition to native, we also encourage brands to purchase retargeted ads, which follow the users that have engaged with the content to extend the brand engagement and association in light of the message the native content delivered.
Hand in hand with the reach, the meticulously constructed content pieces and credibility they deliver, renders native massively powerful. Native content marketing is not just another advertising ploy, it’s strategic with a long-term purpose that is incredibly valuable.
Andrea van den Bergh is channel manager at The SpaceStation
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