What is native advertising, and why should you change your advertising ways?
Advertisements can be annoying. According to AdWeek, roughly nine out of ten people skip an ad if able to. Due to the intrusive nature of advertisements, we’ve trained ourselves to ignore them. Consumers hear the mark of a commercial break and go grab a cup of water. Even while surfing the net, they pay no attention to the sides of the screen where ads are usually located. I’m sure such coping mechanisms are not the outcome advertisers intended. Naturally, advertisers recognized the problem and started working on a solution, which in this case is an advertisement that is not meant to be annoying and would fit in as a regular content. With that, the concept of Native advertising emerged, frankly, an advertisement in disguise.
Native advertising is the newest tactic in digital advertising. It is simply an ad that doesn’t look like one. It blends in with whatever it is you’re viewing, and it doesn’t disrupt the flow of content. It takes the form of original content, instead of saying buy this product it’s great, it entertains or benefits the consumers. If this strategy was used in this magazine, it would look like an article, and if it was used on Instagram, it would look like a post. Advertisers can convey the desired message in a subtle and smart way instead of an ad that is flashing in your face interrupting your viewing.
BuzzFeed, a news and entertainment company, is known for its reliance on native advertising. According to Business Insider, Buzzfeed’s revenue from the year 2012 to 2013 has tripled to $46 million even before the end of 2014. Instead of using flashy banners, the company switched to ads pretending to be content (Native Ads). Buzzfeed makes money by creating native advertisements for different brands. Summer Anne Burton, the Executive Creative Producer of Buzzfeed, explained it in an interview on Media Post. She said “We want to make content that’s branded and that fits with what’s already on the website. We want to make things that people love and engage with. Advertising is a much more pleasurable experience when the ads are interesting, cool and fun. The experience is better for the reader. The goal is not to fool anyone or blur the line, it’s to make really fun, great advertising that people will engage with and enjoy. We label everything as a sponsored piece of content” (Elkin, 2016).
The popularity of Native advertising is soaring, it is seen today more frequently than ever. You might have seen one today but didn’t even realize it. My favorite example of which is an “article” on the New York Times titled Women Inmates: Why the Male Model Doesn’t Work. It is labeled at the top “Paid Content by Netflix and Orange Is The New Black”, the latter being a TV series about women in prison.
The article starts with talk of the increase in numbers of women admitted in U.S. prisons. Then stating issues relating to women inmates and supporting that with statements of specialists, statistics, and graphs as well as appealing illustrations. Doing that, the article was providing useful information about a topic related to the product. Within that, a quick mention of the real reason for this whole article. Swiftly, in this quote, the message intended was delivered, which was spreading awareness of the product. “In an August 2013 op-ed in The New York Times, Piper Kerman, author of the prison memoir Orange Is The New Black, which inspired the Netflix series of the same name, calls the distance between women prisoners and their families ‘a second sentence’” (Deziel, 2014). There, the sole purpose of this article, promoting the show. It was not out of place, it fits nicely with what preceded and what followed. This is how Native adverting is done, it should look nothing like an ad yet achieve its purpose.
I’d like to close with another excellent sample of native advertising, this time seen on Buzzfeed. It is a promoted post for a video game, a joke that only fans of the game would get. It looks like a post by a player of the game, you wouldn’t think the brand is behind it until you notice the ‘paid post’ label. Compare this to a banner on the side of the page, with a bland call to action that you probably didn’t even notice. The bottom line is, native advertising works.
- Donaton, Scott. “Why Brands Need to Skip the Ads and Start Telling Stories.” – Adweek. Adweek, 19 Apr. 2016. Web. 23 May 2017. <http://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/why-brands-need-skip-ads-and-start-telling-stories-170905/>.
- Weinberger, Matt. “BuzzFeed Pays Facebook Millions of Dollars to Promote Its Clients’ Ads.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 12 Aug. 2015. Web. 12 May 2017. <http://www.businessinsider.com/buzzfeed-native-advertising-is-paying-off-2015-8>.
- Deziel, Melanie. “Women Inmates Separate But Not Equal (Paid Post by Netflix From NYTimes.com).” The New York Times. The New York Times, 12 June 2014. Web. 12 May 2017. <http://paidpost.nytimes.com/netflix/women-inmates-separate-but-not-equal.html>.
- Elkin, Tobi. “BuzzFeed’s Native Ad Leader: Create Content That’s Fun And Doesn’t Trick Readers.” 06/01/2016. Media Post, 1 June 2016. Web. 12 May 2017. <https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/277057/buzzfeeds-native-ad-leader-create-content-that.html>.