Native content and the smart phone, like Anthony and Cleopatra, or gin and tonic; somehow they are just perfectly compatible with each other.

It starts with the realisation that size does matter; smart phones are the most incredible development but you can’t get away from the fact that interacting with the small screen can be a bit of a challenge. So when you’ve found some really interesting content; perhaps you’re on the train home feeling a bit crushed and looking for some light relief; the last thing you want is an aggressive banner add popping out of nowhere blocking the very paragraph you were reading.

The problem with display ads is that they’re incredibly invasive, but then they come from an era of marketing history when the only thing that mattered was that you grabbed attention in the nanosecond of window that you had to get noticed.

Today’s consumer is a very different beast, as different as the media they have available to them. Today’s consumer has grown up to expect to have what they want when they want it. Which means that if they want to watch a movie on the bus, that is exactly what they will do, because they have the technology to do it; and if they want to read an article on the stresses of being a celebrity in the jungle or the desperate plight of those made in Chelsea then, again, that is what they will do.

Advertisers who send in the banner bombs to disrupt and distract will win no friends in their target market and are in danger of creating negative brand loyalty, a sort of anti-matter for brand growth.

Now, native advertising wouldn’t dream of being that pushy. Instead it sits on the library shelf, side by side with the editorial content, waiting to be picked up and sampled along with the other worthy content. It is great for the publishers because they appear to be giving even more value for the cover price, it’s great for the advertiser because they get some quality time with their market, and it’s great for the consumer because they get to watch quality content designed to be good on the device they’re using.

This is an incredibly exciting time for native advertisers. The challenge of developing high quality relevant content in so many different media, to be viewed on so many different platforms, has quadrupled both the contextual and the spatial dynamics of creating and delivering the message.

Even the message has changed, no longer an ‘invitation to treat’, to use the legal parlance, the promotional message in the native genre is much more an invitation to engage, the start of a relationship.

With the technical capability available in the digital world to measure and evaluate we have entered a time when we will be judging ads by the strength of their engagement, which potentially could track through the lifetime of a customer relationship. Brands that could achieve, via native content, a relationship resembling that between a series like Radio 4’s ‘The Archers’ and its audience could be on to a winner. It worked with Martini and Gold Blend on the television – it’s just a matter of rethinking the boundaries.

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Author Adam Rock

More posts by Adam Rock

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