What is Native Advertising?

I’ve written a thorough overview of native advertising on LinkedIn, but let’s look at one example.

For most situations, longer-form native advertising (I’m not talking about Google or Twitter ads) is:

  • A directly paid opportunity – Native advertising is “pay to play.” Brands pay for the placement of content on platforms outside of their own media.
  • Usually information based – The content is useful, interesting, and highly targeted to a specific audience. In all likelihood, it’s not a traditional advertisement directly promoting the company’s product or service.

This is where native advertising looks a bit like content marketing. The information is usually highly targeted (hopefully) and positioned as valuable. But again, in native advertising, you are renting someone else’s content distribution platform (just like advertising), except that you aren’t pimping a product or service.

  • Delivered in stream. The user experience is not disrupted with native advertising because it is delivered in a way that does not impede the user’s normal behavior in that particular channel.

Brands want their native advertising to look as similar as possible to the third-party site’s content. Though the media company wants that too (because it’s easier to sell that way), it also has to put out a multitude of warning labels around the content to make sure the paid placement is 100% transparent.

To summarize, native advertising doesn’t disrupt the user experience and offers helpful information in a format similar to the other content on the site so users engage with it more than they would with, say, a banner ad. (This is good for advertisers, and if the content is truly useful, good for consumers.) In very simple terms, native advertising is one way content marketers can distribute their content.

Create Content According to Buying Cycle

Customers go through the buying cycle before they finally decide to make a purchase, generally following this pattern:

  • Need – Customers are aware they need something, they’re just not 100% sure what it is yet. For example, Shopper A just had his washing machine’s tumbler stop working. It’s a problem that he needs to fix, but he doesn’t know how.
  • Initial research – The customer tries to find a solution. In the case of our friend with the broken washing machine, he’ll probably first look to figure out if a repair will suffice or whether he’ll need to purchase a washing machine replacement. He recognizes a new washer is needed and does research to find a model that fits his budget and offers the best quality for that price.
  • Final research – The customer has found a solution; all that’s left is choosing where to purchase it.
  • Purchase – The customer makes his purchase.