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New York Times Archives - Tan Media

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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Programmatically problematical natives?

By | Native advertising

The New York Times has been at the forefront of adopting the native format as a way of giving consumers even greater value when visiting the site, while at the same time boosting ad revenues. The foresight shown by CEO Mark Thompson is being replicated across the US media scene as advertisers moving their budgets from traditional display ads to native sponsored content.

At the moment, native takes just under 10% of total display budgets but that is predicted to jump to 15% as early next year. And at a time of fairly fixed overall marketing budgets, that means that every dollar going into native is a dollar coming out of banner ads and the more blatant display styles.

This is all good news for native advertising then, and in more ways than just revenue and sponsored volume. The more native grows as a marketing discipline or creative format, whichever way you choose to look at it, our knowledge of how and why it works and how we can improve its performance also grows.

With knowledge comes opinion and debate, just as it has for every other aspect of people’s quest to understand life and the universe. Seldom will any two experts agree on everything, whether they are plumbers, writers or nuclear physicists; and, in the same way, different views are beginning to emerge amongst those who are dedicated converts to the native movement.

Mark Thompson of NYT has begun such a debate by suggesting that while, for him, the future growth of native is not something he questions, the degree to which it should become programmatic, definitely is.

Programmatic, in this context, is the technology by which a consumer’s clicking behaviour automatically determines the content that appears to them. By inserting triggers in the content, such programming tries to turn the consumer response into an algorithm that will automatically match them to relevant content.

Thompson believes that should be the job of creativity, not digital switches. This, perhaps, reawakens the other discussion of whether marketing’s job is to give the customer what they want or to lead the customer to what they have not yet realised they want.

Studying buyer behaviour has given us great insight in how to lead a customer to a relevant offer, but it remains the offer that closes the sale. With digital marketing we can understand how to differentiate our customers by what they click, we can then lead them along the path to our offer. However, to think we can do that without creativity is completely missing the point of how native works.

Automation in marketing is only bad (for the consumer) when it results in invasive, unwanted and irrelevant daily phone calls about PPI mis-selling, for example, or display ads that leap out of nowhere to obscure what you were trying to read. When it is simply another example of gloriously innovative technology that understands the consumer and takes them to good places, quicker, that does seem to be a good thing.

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