Native Advertising Demystified

https://www.flickr.com/photos/10ch/3347658610If you aren’t using Native Advertising as a part of your marketing strategy, you should be, because it can help you do three things. It allows you to go deeper than “Awareness” and win the attention of your market. It is a way to compensate for the growing “Ad Blindness,” where consumers are more adept at and have more tools at their disposal to help with ignoring or skipping ads. And finally (but most importantly),it helps create goodwill by making you a trusted source of information or solutions instead of an interruption… goodwill that will make it easy to make the sale down the line.

What Is Native Advertising?

Native advertising is a term hat gets thrown around a lot, but isn’t always clearly defined. Let’s take care of that first:

Native Advertising is a content marketing element that is designed to blend in seamlessly within the context of the platform in which it appears.

NOT Advertorial

It differs from Advertorials, though. An advertorial is an ad designed to look like editorial content. It typically starts out by examining a problem the consumer has that is directly related to the product and subtly plays on all of the “hot points” in an effort to build in the prospect the desire for the solution. And then in the end, the solution is offered in the form of directions for ordering the product (or taking the next step deeper into the sales funnel).

Native content is ACTUAL content, not a disguised sales pitch. It genuinely offers information or solutions to a problem that is common to your prospects, but not directly related to your product. If you manufacture running shoes, then your native advertising is not content about what makes a great running shoe or how to pick the right pair; your article is about proper nutrition for running, or precautions for distance running in hot (or cold) weather. It is about health and fitness tips for women. Or exercises to help you cut your time as the anchor in the 100-meter relay.

Isn’t That P.R.?

Sounds like a sound PR story, right? Right. Except that, unless it’s in your own social media channels, it is paid placement before someone else’s audience and you typically have a high level of editorial control because of it. And instead of an author getting a byline it’s: “Running Safely in Cold Weather, brought to you by New Balance”

It won’t work as a stand-alone sales piece, but instead is part of a broader strategy of content marketing. Over the course of three or twelve or eighteen months, becoming such a trusted source of information and solutions in the running (or whatever) community, that when a runner decides it’s time for a new pair of shoes, that sale is yours to lose.

Three Steps To Effective Native Advertising:

1. What “related” problem can I solve for my market? What insights can I share?
It’s not about your product or your brand. It’s about your customer and how your expertise can help them overcome some obstacle or improve some area of their life. And not just once, but three or twelve or twenty-four times. It is a good tactic, but it’s only effective within an overall strategy.

2. Why/What/How?
A quick and easy way to make sure you’re creating engaging, share-worthy content is to use the method I’ve outlined here.

3. How can I tailor it for necessary platforms?
Your “running nutrition” article in Runner’s World is probably going to be different from your “running nutrition” article in Men’s Health, which is going to be different from your article in Self.

None of them–as is– are going to make a very good Facebook post, or pin on Pinterest. The images you use in your article might not be right to share on Instagram.

The core of the Why/What/How structure needs to be implemented individually to fit within the expectations and “rules” of each medium. Tailor your articles specifically. Turn it into a video for YouTube (longer format) and Facebook (shorter format). Use it as the basis of an infographic for Pinterest and a series of photos for Instagram.

Writing a blog post and sharing it across all of your different platforms is simply content distribution. It’s a mass-media approach to your content. Native advertising, by contrast, is a multi-media approach, with each element shaping itself to fit within the context of the environment in which it lives, for maximum impact and engagement with those who consume it.

Danny Thompson is Associate Publisher and Business Marketing Specialist for H&F Media Group’s “Outdoor Lifestyle” family of magazines, Specifically, Gone Outdoors, distributed nationally and Alabama Active, the company’s first regionally targeted publication. If your market includes fit, active, affluent people– either nationwide or locally in and around Alabama– who like to travel, call Danny now. (205) 733-1343