Getting a Handle on Native Advertising

As PR/communications professionals, we do our best to keep up to date with new trends in marketing.

Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of articles about “native advertising” and how it is changing the way marketers and media outlets are approaching advertising. I have to admit, I’m still not 100 percent sure what the term means, but I have a general idea.

Do you hate those annoying popup ads and videos when you’re trying to read content from a website? Do you ignore banner ads on websites? Me too, and apparently so do a lot of readers.

Native advertising is meant to circumvent that intrusion by integrating high-quality content into the organic experience of a given platform. So goodbye popups and banner ads, and hello promoted tweets, sponsored stories, invitations to tag photos, etc.

They key is good content that complements the user experience in that platform, rather than jarring you out of it. The risk is that even if you do engage the reader, they get to the end and realize the content was sponsored, and therefore, potentially biased. The Atlantic experienced this recently when it ran content sponsored by the Church of Scientology. Some readers thought it was a regular article and missed the “sponsored content” banner next to it.

If all this sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Print publications have long run paid advertorials, some overtly obvious and some not. There are two key differences, in my opinion. One is that native advertising is supposed to fit the specific platform. So you don’t just write one article and pay to place it on various sites; you customize the content and delivery for different platforms. Second is that native advertising allows for interactivity. Readers can share, like and comment on the content rather than just click on it and be taken to the advertiser’s designated Web page.

Is native advertising just the latest fad, or is it here to stay? I lean toward the former, but only time will tell.

Author: Glenn Gillen, APR
Glenn Gillen is our Senior Account Manager.

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