What is Native Advertising? I’d suggest it’s a form of story telling – delivering a message in a more thoughtful way, engaging an audience by immersing them in a topic, playing to their interests and inviting them to read and engage in a deeper way than an ad with its traditional headline message can. What’s essential though is that the authority and relevance of the advertising brand to the message is recognised by the audience, there’s an approval that this brand understands the topic and has the credibility to relate to it.
With that in mind there’s a subtle, or perhaps not so subtle difference, between engaging with one specific audience and going native in a broader way to reach wider audiences. Essentially it’s a style point, how do you deliver the message to get the most engagement?
An advertising brand working with a single media brand will benefit most when that media brand is the creator of native content. Why? It’s quite simple, the media brand engages with that audience on a daily basis, its style of content delivery, its tone are what makes it attractive and relevant to its readers, there’s a comfort factor because trust exists in a regular reader relationship, and that is the highest endorsement for any marketer trying to deliver a message.
If the native content appears seamless rather than at odds with the broader content it’s got a far better chance of being read, accepted, and hopefully acted upon.
So that trust factor has to be present between marketer and media brand too, working together to create a message and agreeing the media owner responsibility in delivering, whether it’s a formatted block within content or more free form style delivery. A marketer is always going to have the final sign-off of course, so where’s the risk?
Scalability is the buzzword
Scalability is the buzzword in native advertising, it’s slightly at odds with the above, which is what I would call “pure native” and works off a one to one engagement with the chosen media brand’s readers. The challenge is tougher arguably, or certainly different, when trying to take that message to a target audience that is not single media brand specific, because you can’t reflect those personal attributes that are attached to a specific environment. It’s not insurmountable of course, but consider this, you run the risk of the impact being diluted as it might not blend as well given the variety of environments it’s exposed in.
Same rules apply though, the brand has the credibility to talk about the topic, so if the targeting is good and the right audience is exposed, its content should create engagement. It may mean a lower rate of engagement across all exposures, but it may not! Free form native content will be more difficult to scale of course so it does make formatted delivery the likely option.
Ultimately like all advertising it’s all down to the marketer’s objectives, the timescale, budget and so on, but in native especially I think there’s a key question to consider – one to one, or one to many?
Tim Cain is one of many great experts who will join us at the Native Advertising Days conference, November 16th – 17th, 2016 in Berlin.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Jonathan Simcore