There are many different varieties of native ads, from in-stream social media ads on Facebook, promoted accounts on Twitter, Google AdWords, to sponsored articles on Forbes. All of these marketing platforms and publishers are responding to marketers' demand for more relevancy and engagement with these native ad formats. Marketers are incorporating native advertising as part of their overall marketing strategy because native ads are more effective and contextually relevant, thus better for brands to tell their story.
Below are the key trends that make native advertising a must for your online marketing strategy:
Advertising that is viewed in the context of other content is more likely to be viewed and noticed. Native advertising is integrated seamlessly in a native format within the content stream of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. In contrast, online banner ads have shown decreasing effectiveness as demonstrated by their ever-lower click-through rates (CTRs) and plummeting market prices. In addition, for many content publishers, the native ad is incorporated as content, not relegated to the advertising section of its pages. And as mobile usage has surpassed desktop usage, the native format gives native ads an edge because they can be viewed within the dimensions of your mobile phone or tablet.
Banner ads are more likely to be ignored or hard to view. They are not customized for mobile screens, which is where more and more consumers are viewing their content.
It might sound like a small format difference, but marketers are seeing big results from in-stream and native format advertising on Facebook and other social media platforms. According to a study from AdRoll, of 547 advertisers' Facebook marketing campaigns amounting to over 1 billion impressions, native ads within the Facebook news feed obtained a CTR that was 49 times higher than "right-hand-side" ads, and at half the cost per click.
Native ads that appear within social media platforms help brands convey highly targeted marketing messages to reach specific audiences' niche interests. For example, a dog food brand could advertise on a general interest website, or it could advertise on a Facebook fan page for dogs. Targeting a specific special interest audience allows the brand to get more for its advertising dollars. Given the steep rise in the number of users who get all of their news and content through social media, we now have the ability to take advantage of micro-targeting, or surgical targeting of specific audiences, thus making the viewed content exponentially more relevant to the viewers. Native ads -- leveraged within social media -- give brands an added advantage in attaining a significantly larger reach when communicating with niche audiences. While traditional banner ads might only achieve a 0.05 percent reach on a general portal site, native ads with surgical targeting could attain a 100 percent reach when geared toward a highly focused, highly engaged audience.
Because native ads are seen more contextually relevant and viewed as content, they are simply more effective than other methods of online marketing and deliver higher click-through rates as a whole. According to several industry studies, native mobile ads deliver an average expansion rate/click-through rate of 1.37 percent, compared to average click-through rates of 0.35 percent for standard mobile banner ads, 0.14 percent for desktop rich media ads, and 0.1 percent for standard desktop banner ads. As a brand, you just can't beat this earned media exposure to a targeted audience.
Native ads are about more than just obtaining optimal placement within the consumer line of vision. They open up a whole new medium for sharing brand stories. For example, some consumer brands are marketing their products through listicles with colorful photos that people are inclined to share on Facebook. For others, such as a fashion e-commerce company, it's an opportunity to leverage their styling expertise to provide how-to sponsored articles or posts. The key is to use sponsored content and native ads in a way that enhances the brand's credibility, while also making it engaging for the viewer to read and share.
More people are accessing the web via mobile devices and spending more time on social media for daily information and entertainment. All of these trends point to a new paradigm where native advertising will be the dominant, mainstream form of online marketing.
Because the implementation of native advertising is so flexible, brands can get really creative in their marketing strategy. Instead of interrupting people with display ads, smart brands will find a way to create compelling content that can hold its own in competing for people's attention in context with publisher/editorial information and entertainment content.
The ultimate goal of effective advertising is to tell the brand's story that engages, entertains, and delivers relevant content to the target consumer. In this way, native advertising is creating a more powerful and promising future for both brands and consumers.
L. Jasmine Kim is CEO at MobSoc Media.
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