For many business owners, online advertising has traditionally meant banner ads and Pay Per Click campaigns with the likes of Google and Yahoo. While the online space was in its infancy for marketers, this approach was successful.

However, in recent years, consumers have become more discerning about how they’re marketed to, and this has resulted in banner ads and PPC campaigns taking a revenue hit. According to a recent article at Smart Insights, global clickthrough rates continue to show unimpressive interaction, with “banner blindness” a key factor in consumers ignoring straight-up advertising.

Instead, social ads and content marketing have started to drive bigger engagement, with consumers increasingly acting upon ads within the likes of Twitter and Facebook, as well as sponsored blog posts from bloggers promoting a certain brand or product.

Yet even these methods of advertising are beginning to be less effective, with reports showing consumers tiring of constant blatant promotion by bloggers, and confusion around disclosure of a paid/sponsored promotion via these channels.

With consumers looking for a better brand experience that doesn’t necessitate a barrage of ads, one area that’s set to break out in 2014 is that of native advertising.

What Is Native Advertising?

The problem with advertising is it can often seem out of place to the recipient. Mass advertising in particular—print ads or TV ads—is sent out based on attachment to a popular TV show or the reach of a newspaper or magazine. This leads to less relevance for the audience.

Online ads allowed marketers to become more focused, and begin to isolate target audiences based on age, demographic, browsing habits and more. However, this could still lead to irrelevant ads, with ads showing up based on a Web user’s browsing history, versus the ad matching the content being viewed.

This is where native advertising comes into play.

By matching advertorial to content, the hope is the increased relevance to the viewer results in the desired action for that ad. For example, let’s say you’re a fan of Ford vehicles. You visit a site like Jalopnik and, while reading about the new Ford F-150, you see an accompanying ad for tonneau covers, or tire pressure monitoring hardware.

By providing complementary ads to an audience on a relevant site, and providing context for the purchase, the chances of the ad being more successful are higher than an ad for toothpaste, for example.

Mobile native responses

It’s this contextual relevance that’s making native advertising so attractive to marketers, advertisers and business owners of all sizes. So how can your business benefit?

Native Ads As Content Marketing

As consumer behaviour shifts from making a purchase after seeing a brand ad to researching and validating through reading blogs and trusted online media sources, businesses need to think about how they can be a part of that shift.

A particularly effective approach is to partner with bloggers in your industry or niche, and provide relevant advertising opportunities for them where they can also benefit. There are multiple benefits to this method:

  • Both the blogger and his or her audience are relevant to your products or services, offering a warmer lead opportunity.
  • The blogger is respected by their audience and, as such, offers a higher potential for actions taken (downloads, demos, inquiries, etc.).
  • By partnering with a blogger, your business can bypass ineffective ad partners and provide fresh, relevant content direct to the source (blogger and audience).

To help you identify which bloggers are the most relevant to your brand, as opposed to those with a larger audience but less relevance, you can use tools like InkyBee and InNetwork to help you filter out the best matches.

These companies also offer excellent support in ensuring the bloggers who are the best fit for you are the ones identified by their technology.

Once you identify the bloggers, take the time to review their blogs and how they traditionally partner with third-parties like your brand. Some may display relevant ads next to an editorial, while some may offer sponsored content.

See which works best for the blogger you’re looking to connect with and then reach out with your proposal, identifying your budget and goals to ensure the blogger is the right fit from a financial standpoint.

Native Ads And Mobile

As desktop browsing continues to make way for mobile browsing as the preferred source of content consumption, so marketers and businesses need to adapt their tactics to meet this diversifying audience.

Indeed, ComScore predicts that mobile browsing will overtake desktop browsing in the next year.

Mobile versus desktop 2014

This opens up a host of different opportunities for businesses to connect with their customers on their chosen mobile platform.

  • Facebook reports that mobile ads have contributed more than $1.5 billion in revenue, with much of that coming from targeted, native ads in a Facebook user’s stream.
  • Social networks Instagram and Tumblr are enjoying profitable brand partnerships through in-line native ads that are part of the user experience.

For businesses already using social media as part of their marketing outreach, the mobile-readiness of these networks make it easy to create in-line ads that will go directly to a targeted customer base (Facebook Ads offer the option to be placed in both desktop and mobile feeds).

Additionally, there are dedicated solutions to help you create a mobile native ad. One such company is Namo Media, which provides a seamless way for you to include in-line ads on mobile apps. Nano Media’s templates adapt to your brand’s design, keeping ads unobtrusive and a natural part of your customer’s experience.

If your business doesn’t have the scale to build apps, solutions like Conduit Mobile enable you to create inexpensive apps with multiple features and promotional solutions.

Whether you’re looking to partner with bloggers and media for native ads through content marketing, or offering a dedicated mobile experience either through existing social networks or a dedicated app, it’s clear that native advertising is growing in popularity and effectiveness for marketers and businesses of all sizes.

With budgets increasingly being allocated to native advertising, now might be a good time to start considering how you can use it for your business, before your competitors leave you behind.

image: Maureen Flynn-Burhoe

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  1. says

    I feel bad for digital. Until digital there was no click through or proof an ad had an effect. And we have put an honus on digital for proof of call to action. My guess is the CTRs are no different than response rates for traditional media like print or tv. 

    That all said every campaign is unique and native is a great tactic. I have seen special advertising sections in business trade pubs and actually have read them while ignoring most ads. So it can work.

  2. says

    Howie Goldfarb  Like you say, mate, the comparative CTRs may or may not offer more than compared to “traditional”. What I do like is we can be far more hyper-targeted with audience segmentation than a mass TV ad, which should result in higher actions taken.
    Perhaps it’ll be in the next iteration of ads that we’ll really be able to nail down how much of a leap it was to make the move to digital and the measurement benefits that come with that?

  3. says

    Well stated Danny.
    As a content marketer, I’m more likely to develop content that attracts over ads that interrupt.
    That said, I do include CTAs in my blog articles, which I suspect are the very definition of ‘native’.

  4. says

    The Economist has native ads in their ap. You flip pages just like the magazine and the ads are full page ads. But again I caution brands to not look at mobile the way they were conned into looking at digital. People still won’t be clicking. You are still paying for impressions because we still don’t care to interact with brands when our focus is consuming content (unless the bribe is big and it had better be big). So stick with more awareness and branding pitches because seriously I am too busy for any call to actions to interrupt my reading the newspaper or playing a game or checking the weather….unless the bribe is big and it had better be big.

  5. says

    Howie Goldfarb  I think if the context is strong enough, the CTA will work. If I’m watching the trailer for LEGO movie, and right there beside me is “Pre-order your ticket for exclusive  downloadable content for LEGO: The Video Game”, I’m going to act on that (as both a gamer and a fan of LEGO). 
    I don’t think it’s the consumption of content that’s preventing action as much as it is context and timeliness.

  6. pixelherder says

    archer_dan Wasn’t this what the world was like before google and advertisers tried to be clever and gave us too much ‘relevancy’?

  7. Dnowlan16 says

    Very interesting. I knew little about native advertising before this but knew that per click rate ads were becoming a thing of the past. Very cool that consumers are able to be targeted by companies that they actually have interest in. Adding in that so that you can complement your content marketing with native advertising and it seems like a win-win for everyone.

  8. Alex Bisset says

    If native ads are done well, they can really gain a lot of traction. On the non-digital side, The New York Times recently ran a native ad for Orange is the New Black ( the ad itself obviously reached beyond it’s intended audience. If you can make your native ad content interesting and relevant, it will attract interest. I think this is where content marketing and native ads intersect.


  1. […] I personally don’t like the terminology because technically TV Commercials are Native Ads when they are entertaining just like the TV Shows. But if you can pull it off right and legally (no deception) they could be part of your marketing mix. […]