Native Advertising: Its benefits in times of crisis

People access digital media every single day. From online searches to social media communication, digital platforms have become the standard practice for people to get their daily news, social interactions, and even to shop. This is clearer now more than ever due to the recent COVID-19 social distancing practices we’ve all adapted to our daily routines. With this in mind, it’s essential for businesses to take advantage of this activity and get on the digital marketing bandwagon to ensure surviving through the pandemic.

But there’s a key issue that not many businesses are aware of: users are getting immune to traditional advertising strategies. Ad fatigue caused by years and years of oversaturation in both traditional and digital media has made users stay unaffected by ads, even though it’s estimated that they’re exposed to 6,000 to 10,000 ads per day. Now, with every business migrating their practices to the virtual world in order to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s getting difficult to attract users’ attention in the digital landscape.

With the immense volume of ads people are seeing, it’s safe to assume that a great number of digital ads are being massively ignored. Users have become selective with their browsing and can clearly identify an ad between the content they’re consuming, so they simply keep scrolling without paying any mind. So, what if I told you that instead of trying to attract their attention with Hey-I’m-Here strategies, there is a way to make them engage with your content naturally? With everyone trying to sell something online, be the top-of-mind of your target audience with native ads!

What is Native Advertising?

Native Advertising is a digital marketing strategy that allows advertisers to camouflage their ads with a certain platform’s user interface and user experience.

In simpler terms, it lets you present ads in the same form and function that a digital platform presents its original content, letting the ads blend seamlessly with it by making them look less like ads. With this, a user can keep browsing content whilst reading your ads without them noticing due to the fact that native ads don’t interrupt the UI/UX flow of the platform they’re on. According to AppNexus, CTRs for native display ads are 8.8x higher than the average display ad. 

So, how do they work? Well, since the ads blend in with the content the user is consuming, the way native ads are presented makes them think that an ad is merely another piece of content to browse. Depending on how relevant the ad’s content actually is to them, the users will interact with it without even noticing the fact that they’re engaging with an ad.

Native ads offer a non-aggressive way to promote your products and services in a more natural manner, seamlessly grasping your audience’s attention without them even knowing.

Components of Native Ads

Now that you know the basics of how they work, let’s see what makes native ads work. In essence, there are four key components that make up a native ad: its design, its placement, the follow-up, and the disclosure.

Design

The overall presentation of the ad must match with the user interface of the platform where the ad is being promoted. The entire point of a native ad is to ensure seamless, natural engagement with a user, so the ad must stand out from the rest of the content of a site. No matter how much information of extravagant details you want an ad to have, it’s important to keep it as true to the original UI/UX as possible.

Placement

Where the native ad is placed on a platform is crucial for its success, and the design will also be influenced by its location. Will it be a part of the in-feed content of a site? Or maybe it could appear in the content recommendations sections? The objective of your ad and its relevancy with the site’s content will determine where it will be placed, so be sure to find the optimal position that will ensure optimal user engagement.

Follow-up

Once a user clicks on a native ad, they will be redirected to a third-party site. This is a crucial step in the conversion process because a user can be very easily lost in this particular. In order to keep the user engaged with your ad, what follows it up needs to be relevant, attractive and engaging. Don’t change the topic to something that has nothing to do with what the native ad originally included, and make sure that it’s high-quality content the visitor will want to keep exploring.

Disclosure

Native ads receive some negative feedback because people often think advertisers are trying to “fool” users into clicking the ad without their consent. This is why having a disclosure placed on the ad is important, as it promotes transparency. Examples of these disclosures are the sections of the ad that read “Sponsored”, “Promoted” or “Recommended for you”. Rather than fooling users, native ads try to naturally grasp their attention and offer a seamless transition towards more relevant content for the users, and placing disclosures on native ads ensure transparency. And, while a disclosure makes the user aware that they’re interacting with an ad, its content will keep them engaged as long as it’s relevant and attractive to them.

Format types of Native Ads

Let’s explore some of the format types native ads can blend into:

  1. In-feed native ads: These mimic the entire content design of the platform they’re being promoted on. They can appear on the homepage, content feeds and article pages. These are usually placed in publication websites and applications.
  2. In-feed product: Featured in eCommerce websites such as Amazon, in-feed product ads appear blended into the search query results of these sites. They must be incredibly relevant to the query and will have the same design as the other products featured in the results page of a search or in catalogue pages.
  3. In-feed social media: These native ads mimic the entire UI/UX of social media platforms. Many brands use platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even LinkedIn to promote their products and services, and the native ads there blend seamlessly with other posts of the sites. These take the format of video and images very well, as they are featured in post feeds, timelines and stories, and have very engaging call-to-action.
  4. Search Ads: One of the most encountered native ad types is the search ad format. These are ads that use Search Engine Optimization to appear at the top of the results in search engines. Highly relevant to its queries, these ads look exactly like any organic result, mimicking the title style, description and extensions.
  5. Content Recommendation: These appear on widgets added by third-party sites on platforms throughout the web that are considered content-discovery ads. They aren’t able to fully mimic the format of the host site, but they’re still highly engageable.
  6. Mobile native ads: Ads presented in mobile are very similar to ones for desktop-friendly platforms, but mobile formats offer some other possible options. In-map ads, for example, let brands engage with potential clients based on a user’s location and let them access navigation information, contact details, working hours and other extensions that offer immediate context. In-game ads are other options, which are featured on mobile gaming ads and usually are interactive or connected to in-game rewards, which motivate users to watch them.

The native ad format businesses choose to go with will highly depend on their own marketing objectives, what they offer as a follow-up to said ads and on which platforms they want to promote their products and services. Optimal ad placement is essential, and making you’re using the correct native ad format is key for its success and to ensure the largest amount of interaction and conversions as possible.

Best Practices for Native Advertising

After you’ve defined the objective you want to meet with your native ads and the format they will take, it’s time to implement the strategy. While doing this, keep these three following tips in mind:

  1. Place ads thoughtfully – Don’t sacrifice user experience in a platform. It’s not good practice to randomly place ads and not think about the purpose of where it’s being placed, or if it will somehow interrupt the flow of a site’s UX. Instead, explore sites and identify where a user might want to interact with relevant content, and pint-point those sections to place native ads.
  2. Relevancy is key – Nobody wants to click on content that doesn’t match with their unique user experience. Instead of trying to forcefully fit your ad on a site that has nothing to do with it, research where your target audience is browsing the web and design your ads to fit a site’s general theme. Make sure the follow-up is also relevant and offers quality content that will keep the user engaged, or you might lose a potential customer.
  3. Create informative, valuable content – Users browsing the web want to engage with content that is not only relevant, but also helpful. It’s no use to push a user to interact with a native ad just to get to the third-party site and are not able to absorb something that will benefit them. Now more than ever, people are looking for ways to distract themselves from the world while they learn something new, so make sure you offer that content in order to keep your brand on their top of mind and differentiate from the rest.

Digital advertising is a challenge nowadays, but native advertising will ensure your business isn’t just “one of the rest” in the online world. If you need any guidance, Mrkt360 has the right experts for you! We will help you engage with users with relevant, high-quality content in order to naturally and seamlessly make them interact with your business and increase your brand’s awareness online. Contact us today!

Regina
Regina@mrkt360.com

Regina is currently a Communications and Digital Media student at the Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey. From online design and communication strategies to film production, she’s passionate about producing creative content and learning new digital media skills.

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