A headline that came out of last year’s Ad Age Digital Conference concisely sums up the value of native advertising: “Consumers Don't Want to be Sold Things; They Want to Enjoy Content.”
Native advertising might be a household name for publishers and marketing professionals, but many business owners are starting to work with native advertising formats for the first time. And while the end goal of any form of advertising is to close a sale, native advertising is about keeping your eye on the long game. Building brand loyalty is what keeps the sales coming in over time, and the only way to do that is to be authentic and trustworthy.
Consumers want to learn about products through content. But advertisers who haven’t traditionally produced content often struggle to see its value when a traditional ad has the much more straightforward approach of “here’s the product or service we’re selling and here’s how you can buy it.”
Millennials, the generation that makes up the largest portion of the American workforce, crave content and information and they’re willing to spend more time reading articles if they find the information to be trustworthy and interesting.
I field a lot of questions from both advertisers and account managers who are learning the nuances of sponsored content products. Here’s a look at two of the most common conversations I have with clients.
The client wants the native article to be all about their business
The value in native advertising is in the storytelling article format that is meant to engage potential customers, thus building brand recognition and brand loyalty over time. I often ask clients whether they’d read an article that just went on and on about a business — what it sells, why you should buy it, how the business formed, who its leaders/founders are, etc. The answer is usually “no.” (These ads are known as advertorials, which do provide a lot of marketing value for advertisers when produced in the right context and distributed across the appropriate platforms).
I love this quote from Vitaly Pecherskiy, the COO of StackAdapt, a platform that distributes native and video advertising, as told to Entrepreneur.com:
“Native advertising gives companies the opportunity to intellectually establish a bond with their customers through content,” Pecherskiy says. “Their ads are more than a picture and a discount. They are aimed at the heart of the consumer’s values and lifestyle. By forging that connection, companies create loyal customers who return time and again.”
The client is concerned about how much (or how little) their brand/business will be promoted in the content
The client’s business or brand will be featured as the expert voice on the topic chosen for the native article. As the representative of your business/brand, we’ll feature your expertise as the main source of knowledge about a topic closely associated with your brand. As readers consume and engage with this content, your brand’s reputation — and trustworthiness — is enhanced.
While traditional advertising successfully accomplishes marketing goals with more straightforward messaging — and usually with much more immediate, tangible results — advertisers who have larger stories to tell and want to engage customers with their brands can find a ton of value through native ad methods. If a sales push is over but the advertiser desires to remain relevant and memorable, that’s the perfect time to produce native advertising content that engages, informs and also complements traditional advertising methods.
It’s why these humanizing strategies like content marketing and native advertising have arisen — to offer ways to bolster a brand’s reputation without directly trying to advertise a product or service, according to Jayson DeMers, CEO of AudienceBloom, a content marketing firm in Seattle.
This is the message that might be hardest to process for advertisers who seek direct, immediate results. If we provide content that’s useful, research shows that greater respect for the brand’s expertise and reputation will follow. For advertisers with the long game in mind, this is why native advertising is an excellent way to supplement traditional advertising methods in order to increase that brand loyalty and awareness.