Defining Native Advertising

Mary Gail Pezzimenti is vp of content strategy for Federated Media. 

Native advertising has quickly become all things to all people. For some, it’s advertising that maximizes the attributes of the platform it occupies.  For others, especially when it comes to publishing environments, it’s pretty much a new term for an advertorial.

Native advertising must meet four basic tactics: it is sponsored content that runs in the content well of a blog; it takes on the look and feel of the blog; it can take any format (photo, video, post); and the user can engage with the content if he so chooses.

Native is taking off like a shot because it is content that is carefully and uniquely
crafted to find the point of intersection of the brand and the author. Done well, it
feels organic to the reader. It looks like it belongs and, quite frankly, must be
held to a higher standard because of the company it keeps.

It can fall into the trap of being perceived as an advertorial. Unfortunately, in the
past, a lot of advertorial content was written as ancillary, an afterthought, and not
terribly compelling. The devil is in the details here. Native can achieve a lot more
than an advertorial because there is a more mindful strategy behind the concept.
It needs to be thoughtful, unique and in the voice of the site. The author’s passion
has to be genuine, relevant and current. Marketers come prepared for the user to
engage and interact with the content in the midst the rest of the content well. The
engagement is integrated, not separate.

Native advertising works. Our results show that CTRs typically are 20 percent higher than banner units. It is seamless, elegant and most of all not disruptive to the user.

This is raising the bar industry-wide. We can spend a lot of time talking about what it is not, but native advertising represents progress. Why wouldn’t we want to pursue
that?

Image via Shutterstock