The effectiveness of any website can largely be determined by its ability to retain people’s attention. Online the attention span isn’t impressing on its own, but by focusing on usability, user experience, and great content, of course, a website can retain people’s presence for a long time and secure their return.
This makes a website interesting to marketers as a means to reach an audience and get their products and services in front of the right people.
The user experience is vital to a website’s ability to retain their users’ attention and as such, anything that jeopardizes this experience, potentially jeopardizes the website’s future.
Traditional ads demand attention
If you visit a website and browse its content, you are often exposed to ads. They might be banners, large images or even video with sound, but the common trait is that they all seek to gain your attention.
You could say that their entire purpose is to get you to notice them instead of the content on the actual site.
This makes traditional marketing efforts obtrusive and disruptive to your user experience.
Native advertising blends in
The whole idea with native advertising is for the native content to blend in with the rest of the content on that particular platform. The content is presented in the same style and format as any other piece of content on the site.
Native ads are delivered inside the user’s experience which makes native content non-disruptive. Your attention flows seamlessly between editorial and native content, with focus on the value you gain from the content.
Unobtrusive advertising gets your message out in front of people without sparking their recent for you being there. When native advertising is done right, you aren’t interrupting their flow, in fact, you are contributing to it.
When do native ads hurt the user experience?
Nobody’s perfect, and it is possible to break peoples flow of content-consumption with native advertising.
Overall this happens when your native ads don’t line up with the style of the platform. It happens when your content fails to hit the same nerve as the rest of the content. It happens when your content isn’t relevant to the user.
In short, your native content interrupts the user experience, when it doesn’t live up to the ideals of native advertising.
Labels never hurt anyone
The label identifies your content as advertising to the user, and some companies and marketers are reluctant to put the label on their content thinking, it will hurt their CTR and overall engagement.
However, imagine being curious about a piece of content, clicking on it only to find out it actually is a piece of paid content, advertising in disguise. You feel hoodwinked, your user experience is disrupted and now it feels less safe to navigate the publishing website. At the same time, your regard for the advertising company has taken a hit.
Studies show that labels don’t hurt user experience, quite the contrary. The reason is, that user experience is guided by expectations. As long as the user gets what they expect, it doesn’t matter whether the content is editorial or paid, the experience is continued.
When you label your content, the user doesn’t feel mislead which creates a better experience and increases your company’s credibility.
The 5 best practices to increase user experience
To help you steer clear of interrupting the user experience, we have collected five best practices for your native advertising efforts. These practices are general in nature and will help you focus your content across in-feed, content recommendations and branded content.
- Improve relevancy with better targeting and by distributing the content in the right section of a website.
- Focus on the long run to build credibility, don’t use click bait to drive traffic now and risk decreasing peoples trust in the company.
- Label everything and preferably with a byline to show, that editorial staff has created the content.
- Be aware of differences in what works on different platforms, with different formats and content types.
- Give people an opportunity to respond to your native ads. You can learn a lot about your audience’ intentions and preferences, which will help you optimize the content as well as adjust the relevancy.
With these five guidelines, you should be able to not only secure but increase the user experience and through that your results down the line.
Nudge, measure and analyze
Native advertising is in many ways that virtual gentle prod or nudge, to get people to take a certain action. Usually clicking on and reading a piece of content. So how many responded to that nudge? How many read the content? How long did they stay on the site?
If you don’t know the answer to these questions you don’t know whether your content and your distribution of the content has been effective. More than that, you don’t know how well your content fit into the users’ experience.
Measuring click-through rates, page-views and time spent on site are important to determine the effectiveness of your native content. Low CTRs can mean anything from bad headlines, poor images or poor location on site as well as low relevance for the users.
You might have to change several things to make the content work better, but the point here is, that all the mentioned possibilities point to a poor user experience. Creating great content that blends into the user experience, sometimes even lifting it, is the ultimate nudge in native advertising.
Measuring, analyzing and then optimizing your native ads helps you give people just that: The right nudge.
Get even more insights into native formats and platforms at this year’s Native Advertising DAYS.
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