September 07, 2016 Marketing

The New Wave of Advertising: Native Ads

Some might argue the best ads are those consumers don’t realize are actual advertisements. They blend in so well the content appears as though it is original to the website, magazine, or publication it appears on. Consumers may never even realize that what they’re reading is sponsored content — Subtle in its branding, but strong in its message.

Native ads are those with content that fits consistently with the style of the platform the ad is displayed on. Native advertising reaches consumers using unique platforms, from magazines to social media websites, like Facebook and Twitter, to online publications, like BuzzFeed. Perhaps the most controversial source of native advertising is in news publications. The New York Times, for example, has received bad publicity for displaying this form of sponsored content on their website because many of The New York Times native ads are so well disguised, consumers will believe they are reading honest, unbiased news rather than a paid-for ad promoting a brand.

Regardless of the controversy, native advertising is expanding, and it's no wonder why. Native advertising does not intrude on the user’s experience like a pop-up ad or pre-roll video might. This could be why consumers look at native ads 53 percent more frequently than display ads, since the ad appears more like editorial content and it gets perceived as such. This study, by IPG and Sharethrough, reveals even more favorable information for native advertising. Not only are these ads more frequently looked at, but more consumers are looking at these ads 25 percent more overall.

BuzzFeed is widely recognized for their native ads. As a company whose goal is publishing content with the intention it will go viral, native seems like an ideal ad strategy. Thirty-two percent of people surveyed said they would share native ads with friends or family, while only 19 percent of the same people said they would share display ads. Native advertising is more engaging, which is why websites, like BuzzFeed, and social media are using native ad formats to with the intent to increase ad performance while optimizing user experience. But not just any ad will get published, ideally it is the well-intentioned ad fitting consumer needs that reaches users.

The New York Times published a popularized article, “Women Inmates: Why the Male Model Doesn’t Work”. The article addresses the need for policies and programs that better cater to the needs of female inmates, rather than male inmates. If you read this article, maybe you thought a reporter from The New York Times wrote the story. This is an example of how native advertising blends in with the rest of the editorial content on the website. However, on a closer look, it becomes clear that this article is actually sponsored content. A small Netflix logo is visible at the top of the page, and in small print are the words “Paid Post”. “Women Inmates” is an inconspicuous way of promoting the Netflix original show, Orange is the New Black.

There may be backlash for The New York Times including sponsored content on their site, but the benefits highly outweigh the costs here. The company is expected to generate $800 million in revenue by 2020 from native ads. Native Advertising is a newly emerging market with great potential to transition the face of advertising. It’s relevant, creative, and engages viewers exactly how an article or a short video would. Advertising is a forward thinking process and having engaging, creative content that captivates an audience is essential. So why not replicate the videos and articles that already captivate mass audiences through Native advertising?