Native Advertising: With Great Placement Comes Great Responsibility

By: vibethink

May 13, 2014

Advertising’s transition from traditional to digital mediums has been a rough one, marred by disappointment on the agency side and annoyance on the user side. Advertisers were sold on the fact that online metrics would revolutionize their business. Instead, they found that their advertising wasn’t working at all. Meanwhile, ad firms who had hailed a new era of transparency and efficacy were met with spiraling revenues. Something had to change.

Among other options to revitalize online ads, native advertising has seen a resurgence, spawning both champions and naysayers. Sharethrough calls native advertising any “paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.” If the ad looks like the surrounding content while being denoted as an advertisement, it is native advertising. From Twitter’s sponsored tweets to Buzzfeed’s promoted content, many companies and agencies are currently testing this concept of native ads to see if it is an effective option for digital advertising moving forward.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau on Native Advertising

Unfortunately native advertising is not a silver bullet. In fact, if done poorly, it can be detrimental to the perception of your brand and even seen as worse than banner ads. To make native ads effective, you must design them to ensure that they benefit all parties involved:

  • Will the reader find the ad useful and/or entertaining?
  • Will the publisher want the ad to be promoted on their platform?
  • Will the brand be clearly represented by the ad?

With Vibethink’s focus on telling stories through advertising, we have been experimenting with the possibilities of native advertising in our own projects. On our most recent sponsored article, we partnered with C-Ville Weekly and Triple C Camp to develop an advertorial that would be valuable to readers, match C-Ville’s professionalism, and convey Triple C’s message of development through summer camp.

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Some other examples of native advertising include:

Polygon’s Xbox One Review

With this article being a multimedia, single-scroll review for the Xbox One, the Madden ad below is designed to flow with the rest of the article and is very applicable for anyone researching up on whether to purchase the latest Xbox system.

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Onion Labs / DSW

The Onion’s in-house advertising agency infuses their comedy into video advertisements for their brands. This ad for DSW was developed to “create a campaign appealing to the fickle millennial male.”



For more on the discussion about native advertising, peruse the following links:

Sharethrough: Native Advertising
Native ads have a specific form and function. They need to match the design of the surrounding site or platform and they need to be used the same way any other content on that page would be used.

Copyblogger: Examples of Native Ads
There are many different types of native ads from advertorials to sponsored content to promoted posts. This article lays out the distinctions between the different types.

Copyblogger: State of Native Advertising Report 2014
Native ads must be relevant and have a clear call to action to be effective. Many are still unsure about the exact nature of native advertising.

Fast Company: Go Native, Ad Man
Native advertising through the years starting with Google then moving on to Facebook and social media sites. From publishers’ perspectives native ads will go the way of pop-up ads.

The Guardian: Native Advertising Doesn’t Need to Be Rocket Science
Banners and even those with native elements cannot be native ads because they sit outside the content instead of inside. These ads must also be value-enhancing in order to be successful.

Forbes: Buzzfeed’s Native Ads: Working Towards a Fail-Safe Performance
Buzzfeed has been a major champion of native advertising. They have revamped their selling process, success benchmarks, and delivery system to provide the best results for their advertisers and readers.

Digiday: Native Ads or Advertorials?
Native ads aren’t revolutionary, it’s the removing of banner ads that is the novel idea.

Solve Media: Native Advertising in Context (Infographic)
99.8% of banner ads are ignored. Native ads still face a number of challenges, but investors and publishers are looking to increase their native ad spending in the coming years.

Content Marketing Institute: Why Native Advertising is Neither
Native advertising is neither native or advertising. It should not be native because you want it to stand out from the rest of the content surrounding it. It should not be advertising if it is not directly promoting a company’s product or service.

AdAge: Why Bad Native Advertising Is Worse Than Banners
Banner ads are the worst, but are native ads any better. Often times they are irrelevant to the brand and readers cannot easily make the connection. When users are promised that they won’t be tricked by ads, there should be accountability to not trick users.

Content Not Ads: Native Monetization is the Undeniable Future
The three pillars of native advertising are: visually-integrated, choice-based, and content-driven. With interruption no longer working you must use valuable content that is humorous, inspiring, or educational.