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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Author Adam Knoyle

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