Native advertising may be the talk of the marketing town, but is a lot of it just hot air? Part of the problem for both creators and consumers is that the term still lacks true definition. Everything from article links to promoted posts on social media platforms to display ads that break up a blog post all go into the bucket labeled “native advertising.”
Though the definition way be in flux, the characteristics are not. What’s the true test of a native ad? Let’s look at five key characteristics that determine whether a marketer would get an A or an F:
1. A native ad delivers content, not a banner or display ad. A key tenet of a native ad is that it should meld with the platform on which it appears — in ways that include tone, appearance, content, and more. In other words, real native advertising doesn’t seek clicks so much as it tries to really click with consumers.
2. A native ad is shareable. Not every marketer is going to enjoy the kind of native ad success that leads to viral nirvana — like two million shares on YouTube. But good native ads are designed so that the opportunity exists. Effective native ads contain content so appealing that targeted audiences really want to share it with others.
3. A native ad is delivered by a trusted peer. Many are driven boost traffic or social audience growth with bots, but the name of the game is still trust. A recent Nielsen study on consumer behavior indicates that while 70 percent of consumers make purchasing decisions based on online consumer opinions and 84 percent make decisions based on the recommendations of family and friends.
4. A native ad is compatible across multiple devices. Native advertising can be consumed via desktop, tablet, and mobile. Whether it’s a sponsored post, video, or other content, consumers should find it on any device they own and shareable from any device.
5. A native ad is not disruptive. No marketer worth his native advertising laurels wants to stop a consumer in midstream. Abrupt halts in content due to pre-roll ads, content links, or jarring display ads is not native advertising. This technique is old school and does what native doesn’t want: it interrupts the viewer’s experience.
It’s test time for marketers working in the native advertising space. Only time will tell if most purveyors get an A and go to the head of the class or whether they’ll have to repeat the course until they master the medium.