What is Native Advertising?

June 30,2014 by
Molly Pittman

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on native advertising:

Are you in the dark about native advertising?

You’re not alone.

By the end of this article you’ll know what all the scuttlebutt is about and why we’re shifting more and more advertising dollars to native advertising.

Native advertising is the hottest new traffic strategy in digital marketing.

This graph from Google Trends illustrates the opportunity available to marketers that get wise before the herd does.

‘Native advertising’ is on the same trend line that ‘content marketing’ was on back in 2010… about 18 months before every chucklehead with a keyboard became a “content marketer.”


Now is the time folks…

Most of your competitors are clueless about this BIG SHIFT in digital advertising and that’s exactly why you’ve got to pounce on it now.

So… what is Native Advertising?

We’ll define native advertising in a second…

First, let’s look at what native advertising is NOT…

what-native-advertising-is-not

These are traditional banner and social ads that make a clear offer…

  • Switch to our service
  • Buy our product
  • Shop now

There’s nothing wrong with a clear, direct offer… we run ads like this all the time.

Actually… I lied.  There is something wrong with these ads…

The click through rates are pitiful…

low click-through-rates

Click through rates on traditional digital ads sharply declined around 2001 and have been gradually drifting to zero since 2008.

People seek to ignore advertisements.  We know that. It’s been proven again and again by eye-tracking studies and it’s been painfully obvious to digital marketers that monitor click through rates.

But there’s good news for those in the know…

Native ads don’t get ignored like traditional ads… because they don’t look like ads.

They look like content.  You know… the stuff we SEEK OUT on the Internet.  The stuff that entertains, informs or inspires.

Native ads blend into the surroundings on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and any other place where people congregate to consume content.

Let’s look at some examples…

Types of Native Advertising

The original native ad on the Internet was actually the brainchild of Google… and it paid off for them big time.

NOTE: Ryan Deiss talks more more about how Google cashed in on this tactic in this video.

Google and Native Advertising

There are three major types of native ads…

1) Sponsored Content

You’ve seen these before.

Articles and videos appearing on big time publisher websites like Buzzfeed and Wired that closely mimic editorial content but have a promotional intent.

This brilliant video from Purina appeared on Buzzfeed featuring the voice of YouTube celebrity publisher Ze Frank as the elder cat.

It’s hilariously entertaining as the veteran cat distributes advice to the rookie kitten about things like sleeping in the underwear drawer, steering clear of the dreaded vacuum and, of course, eating delicious Friskies cat food.

The subtle offer blends seamlessly with the entertaining content,

That “advertisement” has over 13 million views — because it’s native.

Sponsored content isn’t a realistic native ad format for most businesses.

For the most part, sponsored content is the playground of big brands like Virgin Air, State Farm and the aforementioned Purina.

But the next two native ad types are accessible to businesses of all size.

2) Recommended Content

Would you like CNN to recommend your content?

Content recommendation engines like Outbrain and Taboola can make it happen…

Recommended Content

Notice how “From Around the Web” links blend seamlessly into the experience on CNN.com.

They look identical to the “More from CNN” links to their right but they are, in actuality, native advertisements creating revenue for CNN (and Outbrain) on a pay-per click model.

Our testing with these content recommendation engines has shown that they can generate significant amounts of traffic to content.

Here are just a few of Outbrain’s publisher partners where your content could appear…

Companies Using Outbrain

3) In-Feed Social Ads

This is where we recommend you start with native advertising.

In fact, Part 2 of this series called “How to Get Started With Native Advertising” lays out a plan to get started with in-feed social ads in less than an hour. They are cheap and easy to set up.

Here’s what an in-feed native ad might look like on Facebook…

Is this native advertising?

Notice how this promoted status update on Facebook promises to educate.  It promises value.

This message is consistent with the experience we’ve come to expect in our Facebook News Feed.
There’s no direct offer in this ad but you can bet the landing page will ask for your contact information after giving an informative explanation of ‘personal injury.’

But it isn’t just Facebook that’s gone native.

In-feed ads are available on Twitter…

Twitter Native Advertising

And LinkedIn…

LinkedIn Native Advertising

And YouTube (you know… those in-stream video ads that can be skipped after 5 seconds)…

YouTube Native Advertising

Even Pinterest is joining the in-feed ad game…

Pinterest Native Advertising

NOTE:  Get more examples of native ads in this video presentation from Ryan Deiss.

Why go native?

Here’s why you need to add native advertising to your arsenal of digital marketing tactics… now.

Native ads get attention.

In fact, according to a study by Sharethrough and IPG Media, 25% more consumers look at native ad placements more than traditional banner ads.

This leads to more clicks…

Native Ad Visibility

And native ads don’t just get clicks… they get conversions,

Native Ads Lead To Purchases

That’s the why… but here’s the WHY NOW

The fact is that most marketers haven’t caught on to native advertising.

According to a survey from Copyblogger, nearly 50% of marketers have no idea what native advertising is and only 3% are very knowledgable about native advertising.

Copyblogger Native Advertising Survey

It doesn’t get any better than this… a powerful new digital marketing tactic your competitors know nothing about.

Sure, they might be running in-feed Facebook and Twitter ads.  Maybe they’re experimenting with content recommendation engines like Outbrain.

But they’re doing it wrong.  The ads are wrong, the targeting is wrong and the landing pages are wrong.

That’s why we created a training program, called Native Ad Academy covering everything you need to know to become a master of native advertising.

We’ve spent over $500,000 testing native advertising and made a ton of mistakes.

But we’ve cracked the code on native advertising and we lay out the step-by-step strategy we’re using to get cheap, targeted traffic in this training.

If you want to cash in on this big shift in digital advertising, Native Ad Academy is the training for you.

Coming up…

In part 2 of this series on native advertising we show you how we’re hijacking content we’ve already created to quickly crank out native ads on Facebook and Twitter.

Read Part 2 by clicking here

Then, in Part 3, I’ll share a case study that breaks down a native ad campaign that enjoyed 238% ROI.

Read Part 3 by clicking here

Do this now…

Watch this native advertising presentation from Ryan Deiss… you’ll learn more about native advertising and the Native Ad Academy training.

Got questions about native advertising? Let’s talk about this new form of online media in the comments section.

About Molly Pittman

Molly Pittman is Digital Marketer's Vice President and Traffic Manager. She uses her wide range of business and communication skills to acquire customers through paid traffic. She graduated with a degree in Business Administration & Marketing from Transylvania University in Lexington, KY. Molly has a tiny black dog named Larry. Connect with Molly on Facebook

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