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Native ads are a form of paid content that offer valuable information and encourage more consumer trust and engagement compared to traditional ads. — Getty Images/golero

In the age of digital and social everything, consumers sort through tons of information and navigate their way around a variety of media. Traditional banner ads have become less effective, as page visitors want valuable information — not marketing jargon. As a result, there has been an increase in popularity of native advertising, which is paid content that has a format, tone and subject matter consistent with the publisher’s content.

According to the U.S. Native Advertising 2019 Report, “U.S. advertisers will spend almost $44 billion on native ads — $8.66 billion more than they did last year.” These ads create a cohesive experience for the user, a more effective way for advertisers to get their message in front of consumers and can increase revenue for publishers.

Additionally, consumers tend to trust native advertising more than traditional. So how can you use native advertising to boost your brand and capture new customers?

Types of native advertising

A good way to start with native advertising is to know the different types of paid content opportunities. These evolve as technology progresses, but the consistent characteristic is that the paid content fits the page and there is some connection to your brand, such as linking to your content or site, establishing thought leadership or demonstrating subject matter expertise.

Here are three categories outlined by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in their Native Advertising Playbook:

  • In-feed or in-content: These ads are incorporated into a publisher’s article feed or within a piece of content and take on page characteristics so as not to disrupt the user experience. IAB explained that these typically appear in content feeds, product feeds and social feeds.
  • Content recommendation ads: These ads direct readers to other content that they may like based on the content of that page. These may link to content on or off the site. Often these ads are less aligned with site elements than in-feed ads. Sharethrough, a supplier of native ads, explained that these often begin with phrases such as, “You may also like,” “Elsewhere around the web,” or “Recommended for you”, and may indicate the name of the ad sponsor or the third-party company recommending the content. You can use these to promote your content or other content you sponsor.
  • Branded or native or sponsored content: Having evolved from advertorials, these ads are in article format and may be written by the publisher on behalf of the sponsor or by the advertiser or their marketing agency. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) explained that today’s consumers want to learn about company leaders and their opinions. Rather than approaching this content as advertising, PRSA recommended using journalistic integrity and subject matter expertise to build trust and engage readers.

[Read: 4 Affordable PR Strategies for Small Business]

Because native ads are designed to resemble publisher content, they must be clearly marked as paid content.

Best practices for native advertising

In addition to meeting requirements, there are best practices that can boost ad performance, including:

  • Clearly designate as paid content. Because native ads are designed to resemble publisher content, they must be clearly marked as paid content. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces truth-in-advertising standards and shares requirements in its FTC Guide for Businesses on Native Advertising.
  • Ensure quality. Content discovery platform provider Revcontent explained that, in addition to offering valuable content, the quality of your ad images and copy is key. Respect the user experience as you find a balance between sharing valuable information and getting attention.
  • Know your audience. Place native ads where your audience spends time and share content that fits their interests. If you meet a potential customer on a site that aligns well with your brand, they’re more likely to be long-term customers, explained Cristian Rennella, CEO and co-founder of oMelhorTrato.com, in an interview with Outbrain.
  • Measure engagement. When you place your ads, be sure to understand the reporting you’ll have access to. As with all your campaigns, reviewing metrics can help you assess what’s working and what’s not. While views and clicks are important, tracking the behavior of those prospects once they’re in your sales funnel will ultimately indicate if your native ads are placed where they’re generating actual customers for you.

[Read: How to Measure Content Marketing Success]

Native advertising enables you to use your content to engage your target audience and build relationships. Take into consideration where prospects spend time and their interests, and you can connect in more relevant ways that lead to long-term relationships and increased sales.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published October 21, 2019