The rise and rise of native advertising is a testament to its own power as an advertising concept. Articles, like this one, are appearing increasingly across the media horizon, so the logic and rational underlying native advertising converts those who want to engage with the market rather than just sell to them.
A good example of this is Mozilla, the parent of the Firefox browser. Mozilla had always been seen as occupying the moral high ground of the main browsers; eschewing the overtly commercial positioning of the other big players.
No longer, it would seem; Mozilla have announced that the top three lines of search results are, in effect, up for sale. Previously they had even been planning to give their searches a default of blocking the cookies of third parties; now they seem to have done a complete volte-face and are selling them tickets to the front row.
Mozilla has sold out? Not a bit of it, and this is where advertisers really need to give the native approach a thorough looking at; the key to native advertising is that it seeks to deliver customer value, not just at the point of sale, but at every stage of the sales funnel. That means delivering value at the first point of contact, simply by being interesting, relevant and engaging on a platform of shared interest; value during the process of investigation and evaluation by giving potential customers access to information, white papers, and guides that help to educate their decisions; and value in offering a partnership access to evolving solutions and technology.
As always in marketing, you can simplify this to a time proven process; engage the target’s interest, partner and assist in the decision making process, and build trust that your word is your bond and the sale will make itself.
Some adopters are talking a slightly cautious approach; Linkedin are calling their offer ‘Sponsored Pages’ and Mozilla are calling theirs ‘Directory Tiles’. Perhaps leaving out the word advertising makes them feel better, but both offers are completely within what the media market is calling native advertising.
Without doubt native advertising has enough fire in its belly to run and run, simply because along the way it is constantly delivering value. However, advertisers thinking about it would do well to make up their minds pretty sharply.
Native advertising may well become the norm in how we engage with customers, but if you want it to be a competitive advantage in your arsenal then don’t wait for the pack to catch up.