The term has been bandied around by advertising agencies for long enough now that this next item is likely something you’ve already heard of. Native Advertising certainly needs no introduction but from our experience, it can’t hurt to add some clarity, especially as wider media publishers evolve off the back of social-born developments. The sixth of our series on Social Media Trends for 2015 is Native Advertising, which by all accounts is about to become a must-have activity.
Throughout this series we hope to highlight the practices, techniques and platforms that we see taking off throughout the year – each of them another rung on the ever-evolving ladder of social media innovation.
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6) Native Advertising
Native advertising is probably the most familiar of all my seven trends for social media in 2015. It feels like it’s been with us for decades. It feels like it’s always been part of our browsing experience. It almost feels as familiar as regular TV adverts in between programmes on iTV and Channel 4.
And that’s largely what native ads are all about, being familiar. Being unobtrusive in a way that previous ad formats always struggled to achieve. As the name suggests, this is because these adverts which originally came in to play via the Facebook timeline, are native – designed to fit the environment they appear in.
Old formats, the MPU, leaderboard and skyscraper ads, all asked web-users to divert their attention. ‘Forget what you’re reading, forget the reason you landed on this page in the first place, look over here instead and pay attention to our brand’. ‘Ignore that other ad up there with the music and the flashing gifs, rest your eyes with us and learn everything you never knew you needed to know!’
Native ads are more intuitively served. They sit within the area of the page that the user is already looking at. For Facebook this was the newsfeed, for Twitter it’s the Twitter stream. And over time it was proven that this path of less resistance lead, perhaps unsurprisingly, to greater visibility and subsequently greater bang for your buck.
Easy access equals greater efficiency in conversions and in an ad market that generally competes on efficiency of spend and audience size, Native was quickly identified as a sure fire winner. It was adopted by mainstream online publishers like Mashable and Mail Online and adapted to the long-form styling of their publications by including pop-up native ads just beneath the opening paragraph. Easily seen, and easily closed, these new-breed ads are very difficult to ignore unlike the previous formats which sat outside of the content area.
Online advertising had found the long-awaited equivalent of broadcast advertising. Interjecting at the opportune moment to convey relevance and creative disruption. With linear programming becoming less and less desirable, this online model is surely set to rival broadcast like nothing seen before… until perhaps streaming sites like YouTube become our preferred platform of choice and broadcast ads evolve appropriately.
Native advertising has taken social network usability and fused it with existing online advertising to bring media and medium in to a cohesive, saleable package. You no longer have to purchase an area within a reputable web page or section. Instead you can choose a position within a relevant article, i.e. highlighting your relevance from within the content itself.
In terms of sales and servings they still have a considerable way to go before the ad platforms allow the powerful channel management available within Facebook and other social networks. Despite this, you can expect targeting options to increase – perhaps even be linked specifically to key words or search ranking (per article). This remains to be seen but one thing is for certain and that is that this trend is here to stay, with Native set to become the norm.