Talk to people in the advertising industry and you can get wildly different views on what native advertising is. For some it’s content partnerships between brands and publishers, for others it's paid content promotion, and for a few it’s a new way to push advertising at people. Find out how native advertising is a natural complement to a good Content Marketing strategy.
People are becoming increasingly sceptical of all types of advertising — with less than a third of consumers believing what advertisers say about their products. Source
This growing scepticism has led many marketers to create content marketing strategies. In fact, now 70% of consumers say they’d prefer to get to know a brand through a content rather than advertising, and 71% say they are more likely to trust a brand if their content is informative rather than promotional.
Publishers have been quick to pick up on the fact that content strategies are resonating with consumers and in response have developed advertising products that assist marketers to position their content offers in relevant places, with some even working together to create co-branded material and publications. So used appropriately, native advertising goes hand-in-hand with content marketing.
Native advertising helps marketers who have a well-planned content marketing strategy to position relevant content offers alongside content that readers are already engaging with, and/or to leverage the resources of a publisher who has developed content that is highly valued by potential buyers. And like most content marketing strategies, native advertising campaigns are planned to work at the top of the sales funnel as part of a process to produce marketing and sales qualified leads.
So what do you do if you don’t have a content marketing plan in place and want to develop an offer to sit alongside content that a publisher has already developed?
Develop buyer personas and their journey
A native advertising campaign should always be more educationally based than promotional. To develop offers that are more educationally based you need to start with a solid understanding of who you’re trying to attract. The best way to do this is to develop buyer personas and their journeys in the buying process. If you haven’t developed buyer personas before you’ll find EP’s Buyer Personas Development Template a useful tool to guide you through the process.
Create valuable content
Armed with buyer personas you’ll be able to quickly see the types of content that people find valuable at various stages in the buyer's journey. To develop your campaign, select the buyer persona that you want to attract and develop a piece of content that you believe would be valuable to that persona at the top of the sales funnel.
Choose right promotional channels
The next step is to work out where to promote your content. Obviously, relevant valued content is easy to promote in both paid and earned media channels, but lets just focus on native advertising in paid channels. While you can leave native advertising media placement to a programmatic buying engine, you risk to have your material placed alongside the content that isn’t a great match for your content offer. The result you will get is low quality leads, even if the numbers look good – and do a lot of brand damages along the way.
The key objective should be to generate good quality marketing qualified leads, so the approach to take is to carefully select the appropriate placements. This approach usually always generates the best ROI – and means your sales team doesn’t come back complaining about the poor quality leads you provided.
Here’s an example of what you would do if your company was selling business insurance:
your primary persona is a small business owner who is in the awareness stage of the buyer's journey;
your top of the funnel content offer is an ebook called ‘6 Ways Small Business Owner can Sleep Better at Night’;
to promote your content offer, place your paid native advertising in business publications alongside content relevant to small business owners.
In summary, native advertising can be effective as part of a content marketing strategy in the mix with other paid and earned media. If you use it as another channel to try and push your message, you run the risk of low returns and negative brand association.