There’s been a lot of chatter about Native Advertising over the past few months. So what exactly does the term mean? It turns out that ‘Native Advertising’ is a cool term for a very old concept. It isn’t actually new at all. At its essence, this is a term applied to digital advertising that follows the form of a classic advertorial. In other words, paid-for content that appears within a relevant editorial stream with a bit less separation of editorial and advertising than with traditional placements. This advertiser paid content nearly always includes some form of ID identifying it as sponsored content but intrinsically tends to blur the distinction between editorial and advertising in the eyes of the consumer.
At its best, the paid content must be fundamentally connected to the specific channel in terms of both format and content in order to promote the brand through engaged consumer interaction. A great but simple example is paid ad placement on search engines where the paid ads integrate and flow seamlessly with the rest of the content on the page. Of course, the beauty of native Digital advertising is that engaging content has the advantage of also being linkable, sharable and discoverable.
Due to continually declining click-thru-rates and increasing banner blindness publishers are seeking ways to differentiate themselves and combat the commoditization of digital advertising. Some sites are moving away from banner advertising all together and instead moving toward integrated content that offers a way to engage readers and move away from the traditional advertising model. However, to work effectively content must add value for the audience and not simply try to “trick” consumers into thinking the content is impartial. When this is done correctly, advertisements have the potential to not only be less annoying and less intrusive but actually enhance the user experience. The goal is to make advertising that people want to experience because they find it compelling – even though they know it is advertising.