How does traditional advertising work? Well, companies buy commercial spots on television, they use banner ads and pop-ups, they fill up inboxes with ad-heavy content.
Young people find these types of advertising intrusive and irritating. They see these activites as “hard sells” and they do not trust brands that disrupt their viewing and/or reading activities. So, they cancel their cable subscriptions in favour of streaming, they download ad-blockers, they turn on their spam filters.
Millennials spend more than $600 billion a year
Still, brands have to reach this audience. After all it spends more than $600 billion a year. And response of the brands is increasingly native advertising i.e. finding ways to promote a product or service through content that this young audience will love and share.
While many companies have already nailed native advertising there’s also native inspiration to be found in some of the content marketing efforts of brands in their owned media. Some of those campaigns can easily be used for native advertising campaigns as well.
Here are my personal favourites regarding brands that take their storytelling to a new level.
1. Brands can be linked to a cause: Toms Shoes
Young people today want brands who care about social responsibility. What better way to be a “native advertiser” than to focus on this more than on your product or service?
This is just what Toms Shoes has done since the beginning. The backstory is one that young people see as inspirational and one that proves a successful brand can be built on giving.
When a pair of shoes is purchased, another one is donated to a poor child
Blake Mycoskie, the founder of the company, participated in the TV reality show, “Amazing Race,” with his sister which included a trip to Argentina. The following year, Mycoskie returned to Argentina and had two “aha” moments. Firstly, children in the poor villages were barefoot. Secondly, he fell in love with an Argentinian shoe, called “alpargata” – a flat shoe made of canvas. He returned to California and started a company based on the production of these shoes and a business model now called “one-for-one.”
When a pair of shoes is purchased, another one is donated to a poor child. The product line has expanded to other items, still based on the one-for-one model.
The website focuses heavily on the charitable aspects of the company as do its social media platforms rather than the products.
How non-sexy products can become entertaining
There are a lot of products and services that are just not exciting and yet people need them. Who, for example, can get excited about razor blades or buying insurance? No one, that’s who. But here’s some great examples of brands taking their storytelling to a new level.
2. Brands can come a long way with humour (and irony): The Dollar Shave Club
When Michael Durbin and Mark Levine founded the Dollar Shave Club in 2011, they had a great idea. What if men could subscribe to a razor blade “club” and receive razors in their mailboxes every month?
To market the idea they came up with a video that focused on the benefits and value of subscribing to their service. It was pretty hilarious and soon it went viral. After three months, the video had over 4.75 million views, and that figure just kept rising.
The video cost $2500 to produce
The last figure was somewhere around 24 million on YouTube alone. And that’s a result of social shares (P.S.: the video cost $2500 to produce).
While this is not a classic example of native advertising and more like a traditional commercial, it’s still an excellent example of how to grab the attention of a young audience by not taking your brand too seriously.
3. Brands can use mascots: Geico
Insurance is a pretty boring industry. Everyone has to buy it, but there is nothing to show for the purchase. Still, people do shop for the best rates and mostly online these days.
I like the idea of making insurance more fun and accessible by creating a “mascot” that go on adventures.
Geico Gecko has a growing following by way of his wry humour and cute looks
Geico Insurance uses the stories of Geico Gecko as tv commercials but they are also all over social media. Geico Gecko has his own Facebook page and Twitter account, which make him totally recognisable and relatable.
The gecko doesn’t have to talk about insurance – his purpose is just to keep the brand name out there and keep growing a following by way of his wry humour and cute looks.
— The GEICO Gecko (@TheGEICOGecko) 9. marts 2017
4. Brands can be inspirational: Foundr
When Nathan Chan decided to launch the magazine Foundr in 2013 he knew he was breaking new ground. He wanted a digital publication, on a subscription basis, for an audience of entrepreneurs.
He also knew that traditional advertising would never work. So, he decided on social media – but only one social media platform; Instagram. What he needed was not so much to sell subscriptions directly but to create a following that would keep growing because people would return to his platform for more good stuff and share the content with their own tribes.
He found cool photos and quotations that young entrepreneurs would relate to
Chan’s strategy was to post inspirational quotes on Instagram several times a day. He wanted to sustain and increase the motivation of young would-be entrepreneurs. Thus, he found cool photos and quotations that they would relate to. Today Foundr is a huge success available on all imaginable platforms.
The result? He had a following of 10K in three months. Chan linked to his brand in the Instagram bio and began a conversation thread by offering free issues for sharing his posts or held contests to win a free subscription.
Et opslag delt af Young Entrepreneur Magazine (@foundr) den
5. Brands can create documentaries: Gillette
Stories are always popular, whether real or imagined. And brands who use stories must be mindful of two things:
1) The stories must appeal to their target audience
2) The stories must relate in some way to their brand
Gillette has done a pretty good job of appealing to a young audience through short ‘documentaries’ that has a subject not directly related to Gillette involving a host, experts and real people on the street.
One example is the video titled ‘Are we killing the kiss’? It’s hugely entertaining and it could easily be integrated on many lifestyle publisher platforms targeting a younger audience.
One of the reasons why there’s less kissing in America is that men with facial hair will not get the kisses they want from women, because of the uncomfortable “feel.” It’s entertaining to watch. And it probably makes men want to get a shave.
Here’s what marketers need to remember about young people today
- They will ignore most direct sale advertising
- They want to be engaged by humor and inspiration
- They rely on recommendations from others, primarily on social media, even strangers. When they receive shared content, they will usually read/view it
- They want authenticity and they are savvy customers. They will punish brands who don’t live up to their needs.
Native advertising can be seen as an indirect method of appealing to this demographic, and, if done right, it will make a brand remembered and valued.
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