The whole idea of native advertising is meant to make an ad appear like editorial content. However, it’s not as simple as that because a lot of adjustment is needed to do so and yet include the promotional message of the ad into the editorial in a subtle manner.
Today, we have online and offline varieties of such ads and this blog will generally cover the online version with references to the generic aspects of this kind of advertising that are relevant to the offline version as well. Most people think they have found such an ad when they see the phrase ‘Sponsored Content’ right on top of an article. That is partially true because sponsored content or as it is often called, ‘branded content,’ is a category all by itself. It means, sponsored or branded content is written to promote brand awareness but it shouldn’t have any call to action.
Convergence of sponsored content and native ads
We have briefly discussed the main point of difference between sponsored content and advertisements and it is – for content to be considered as ‘sponsored’ or ‘branded’ there should be no call-to-action in it. But, a webpage being what it is today, the reader of such sponsored content could be bombarded with ads of the very brand covered in the sponsored content, popping up every now and then while he is reading the content. Will it still be considered sponsored content or does it become native advertising? After all the ads of the brand popping up relentlessly is as good a call-to-action as outbound links on the content body.
Clearly, technology has breached a barrier and has made it necessary to rewrite the rules of the game to fit into a broader category of sponsored content. The other way to look at it is from the perspective of pure and simple native advertising. Endless amounts of content is published every day with hyperlinks that provide a hook to the reader of the content in a distant website to land up on the site of the publisher of the blog. That has been happening all along and in recent times there has been some efforts by Google and some other search engines to regulate that by banning such back-linking in specific cases.
Optimum ways to create native ads
We need to realize that at the end of the day, a native ad is another form of advertising and it should not be confused with pure informative or educative content that are found on articles, blogposts etc. For those who like to play by the rules as much as possible, there are ways to make the ads better than the misleading headlines that promise the moon and end up in disappointment for the reader. The objective of a native ad is to be more detail-oriented even while overtly promoting the brand. The ad should be designed to educate the reader about a new or unique concept that will have value for him.
We all know about “How to…” content that tell us how to do different things to achieve a particular result. Some of these how to content pieces are advertorials, another variant of native advertising while some are sponsored content where the author may explain how to make solar panels at home and combine the effort with an inducement to buy some or other part that would be needed to make the solar panel. The whole idea is to add value to the communication by providing correct and helpful information on the advertisement and not just get a sale but also win the buyer’s confidence.
Product reviews can also be blended into native advertising but it should be done without resorting to wrongful practices like misleading the reader with spam reviews that are inconsistent with what the brand promises. If a product has proven credentials, and users have found it useful, promote it by all means. Get your users to write testimonials and combine a few such testimonials to put together a well-meaning native ad that presents the true value and worth of your product to the customer. Of course there are reviews that have earned a bad name for their malpractices but overall, people still like to refer them. In fact, many businesses are experiencing higher sales of products with slightly negative reviews apparently because people find them credible and reliable. Praise of a product should not be ‘too good to be true.’
Native advertising can also be in video format and it all depends on the skill of the creative people working on the video to make it credible. Of course, educative and informative content tends to be long and it sometimes becomes difficult to include all that information into a video ad which has obvious time constraints. Yet, there are no better ways to present how to content or product review content than through video where the expert in the how to clip or the user in the review content can be seen heard describing the attributes of the product.