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The rules of native engagement

By | Uncategorized

It’s always a sign of acceptance and maturity in any activity when someone comes up with a rule book; and that’s just as true for the phenomenon of native advertising.

In this case, the guardian of all that is good is the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), who have been watching the growth of native for some time. Perhaps waiting in case it just fizzled out like another fad or was destined to be a long-term part of the marketing and publishing landscape. In any case, they have now published the first native ads guidelines.

The latest UK numbers are, according to IAB and professional services consultants PwC, that native accounted for a spend of £216 million in the first two quarters of 2014; that’s over 20% of the total display ad spend – hardly fizzling out! In fact, a number of players on both sides of the advertiser/publisher border have dropped display ads altogether and have thrown their hats very decisively into the native ring – even one of the internet’s opinion-formers, BuzzFeed.

Given that extraordinary level of growth and market share, it was inevitable that native sponsored content would attract the attention of the authorities. The good news for the industry is that the rules in this first part of the guidelines are actually based on customer research and effective good practice.

The danger with native content has always been that if a reader doesn’t know that the content they’re reading is commercially targeted, there is the danger of resentment against the publication and against the advertiser for a perceived deception. So guideline number one is unequivocal: publishers must “Provide prominently visual clues to show that pieces are native ads and not editorial”. They suggest a mix of logos and typographical design tools, such as fonts and shading, to differentiate between editorial and native content.

Well, there’s no argument with that, nor the requirement that publishers must add labels to indicate the commercial relationship, along the lines of “Brought to you by…” or “Paid promotion”. Research carried out for the IAB shows that trust increases with the transparency of the origin of the content and, as trust and engagement are the goals of native advertising, these guidelines really are just good practice.

Those who have been carrying the native advertising torch for many years know that when native content is good, i.e. of value to the reader, labelling and transparency of origin are not bureaucratic annoyances but signs of respect.

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3 Examples of great native ads

By | Native advertising

Anyone who read Kylie Wakefield’s piece in EContent magazine a week ago should have been impressed by two things in particular. Firstly by the Nielsen statistic that native ads can produce as much as 82% brand lift; that’s the degree to which something, in this case an ad, has moved consumer perception.

Nielsen, as one of the biggest names in marketing research, aren’t noted for making claims that can’t be statistically justified, so it’s worth drilling down to see what it is about native that makes it so powerful.

Which brings us to the second impressive point about Kylie’s article. It’s the fact that the three native ads she has highlighted are so very different from each other.

The first is the iconic Netflix content in the New York Times in June that was part of the promotion for the TV adaption of ex-con Piper Kerman’s book, Orange is the New Black. The content is not the Piper Kerman life story, nor is it a lurid, voyeuristic fantasy on the lot of women in prison.

Instead the content, including video interviews with past and current inmates, is a thoughtful comparison of the concept of incarceration from both the male and female perspective. It challenges the logic by which women are put through a process largely designed for men, right down to the prison uniforms that make little allowance for differing body shapes.

But this article is not about challenging the US penal system, the original native content does that impressively. No, this article is about why that content worked so well.

Going to the second example; this is a native ad run by Allstate in The Atlantic. It’s basically an insight into millenials’ work habits that discusses the power of FOMO (fear of missing out) that is a core driver in millenials’ need to be ‘always on’; in other words, no more than an inch or two from their phone and, as a consequence, never away from either work or their social selves. Now, according to Allstate this has become linked to a change in attitude and perception of work.

Allstate say that millennials consider work to be a thing rather than a place. Older generations seem to focus on work as a place; they measure performance as time spent at the place, rather than the output achieved. Again, this article is not about what millennials do or don’t think, it’s about why was it a good piece of work.

Finally, she highlighted a piece for Hanes underwear that ran on Buzzfeed. This time a light-hearted list of 10 things that can spoil your chances at an interview, from tipping the contents of your briefcase all over the floor to a sudden affliction of amnesia when it comes to the name of your interviewer.

So, why do three very different approaches deserve to be singled out for native plaudits? It’s simply because they are interesting, and they’re interesting because they are relevant and empathetic, or because they have, as all good journalism should do, challenged us to think from another perspective.

It’s quality by association; quality by reflecting our own values back at us.

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Native Advertising: How do SMEs join the party?

By | Native advertising

Native advertising is set to dominate the content marketing landscape in 2014 as it emerges as a new and exciting way for businesses to revolutionise the way they advertise.

Often involving large brands, agencies and publishers, native advertising is one of the most innovative advertising platforms for 2014 and has the potential to help brands start new and rewarding conversations with many customers through valuable content. According to content marketing agency TAN Media, Native ad campaigns are now more accessible than ever to SMEs and independent business owners.

In this introduction to native advertising, we provide an overview of the practice and discuss what steps SMEs can take to start developing native projects.

So what exactly is native advertising?

There are a variety of definitions of native advertising. One way to describe it is as an evolution of the traditional advertorial that exists as a sub-set of content marketing.

Typically, a piece of native content will be a blog, feature, case study or white paper that is ‘sponsored’ or ‘promoted’ by a company and hosted on the site of a publisher. The content looks and feels like a natural part of its surroundings and is not designed to be an intrusive advert.

Big brands are using publishers like Vanity Fair, The New York Times and Forbes. But as well as the big players, there are a whole host of publishers looking to work with firms of all sizes. Read More