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From full articles to infographics, native content is any type of sponsored or paid content that fits in with the publishing website's brand and provides value to users. — Getty Images/MStudioImages

Native content, or sponsored content, is an increasingly popular and relatively new trend in marketing that is a type of advertising. Unlike traditional display ads, which can ruin the flood of a website’s design and be distracting, native content is created to fit seamlessly with the rest of the website’s content and offer valuable information, leading to more business.

What constitutes native content?

Native content is any piece of brand-sponsored content that is commissioned or paid to look and feel like a natural piece of the publisher’s website. It leverages the strength of another brand to establish trust with their customers, which is surprisingly effective.

However, while it falls under “advertising,” native content is not similar to a traditional ad. Rather, it’s a longer-form piece of content, such as an article, video or case study that is created to be as informative and engaging as possible. In fact, the most successful pieces of sponsored content don’t feel like advertising. The user shouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the publisher’s regular content and the native content.

[Read: Understanding PPC Advertising and What It Can Do for Your Business]

As long as it looks like a natural part of the publisher’s website, native content can take any form of content marketing, such as an article, video or infographic.

What does native content look like?

Since native content requires labeling, the best way to spot native content is to keep your eye out for phrases that say, “branded content,” “sponsored content,” “ad partnership,” “true native,” “premium native” or “paid content.”

There are infinite examples of native content out there, and some that you’ve probably already come across. As long as it looks like a natural part of the publisher’s website, native content can take any form of content marketing, such as an article, video or infographic. Here are a few examples of effective native content:

  • Netflix partnered with The Wall Street Journal to promote their television show, “Narcos,” by providing an in-depth article detailing the multibillion-dollar global drug trade. The article is engaging, informative and interactive, making it beneficial for both the advertiser and the publisher.
  • Eni, an oil and energy conglomerate, partnered with CNN to create an engaging page to promote their Green River Project that combines text, animations, audio clips and video samples. The content helps Eni distance itself from the usual criticisms you’d expect of an oil company and creates a modern brand image.
  • Adobe partnered with The New York Times to showcase their research on the future of retail shopping. While this may seem like an odd topic to write about for this software developer giant, Adobe provides valuable information on creating “digital experiences” for customers and builds a beneficial brand association.

[Read: A Complete Guide to Content Marketing]

Why use native content?

Native content has many benefits that have made using this method of marketing more popular in recent years. These are the three main reasons why more marketers are incorporating native content into their branding strategy:

  • It’s effective. The simplest and most obvious reason to use native advertising is because it works. According to OutBrain, native ads are viewed by consumers 53% more than display ads and create an 18% increase in purchase intent. They keep eyes on the page and generate more business.
  • It’s engaging. Native advertising fights ad fatigue by keeping the consumer engaged. After being exposed to so much traditional advertising people’s eyes glass over and they stop retaining the information. Since native advertising is more about content, it keeps readers’ eyes on the page and thinking about what they consumed longer than display ads.
  • It’s welcoming. According to a 2018 study from Stanford University, consumers don’t mind being targeted this way and are well aware what they’re reading is sponsored advertising. Often, they’ll even seek out certain native content if it has relevant information. Furthermore, a Time Inc. study from 2017 found that two out of three consumers have greater trust in custom content over traditional advertising.

Native advertising is a great way to attract a bigger audience and engage with consumers in ways traditional advertising cannot. People don’t shy away or ignore native content in ways they would with more conventional methods and most importantly, is effective. If you’re looking to inform your audience and create a profit, consider using native content as your next step in advertising.

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 23, 2019