Let’s be honest. How many of us actually click on banner ads? In my experience, if I’m not actively trying to avoid them, I’m blocking them out subconsciously.
I’m not alone. A growing contingent of consumers across all age groups are avoiding traditional banner ads
for a variety of reasons. They’re intrusive, potentially irrelevant, and previous experience has taught many of us that banner ads may be untrustworthy
. As of June 2015, there were 6.5 million active ad-block users in Canada alone
, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
How can marketers adapt to such a large paradigm shift in how users interact with the Internet?
Native advertising may provide a solution.
What is Native Advertising?
In copyblogger’s 2014 State of Native Advertising Report
, they found that a whopping 49% of their respondents didn’t know what native advertising was, and 91% of them spent less than $100 of their monthly advertising budget on native advertising efforts. It is clear that there is a need for a straightforward definition of native advertising.
Native advertising can be defined as a form of advertising that is consistent with its medium in both form and function (courtesy of Sharethrough
). Put simply, where banner advertisements typically serve as a distraction from the content, native advertisements are fully integrated with it.
This can take many forms
- Sponsored articles in newspapers or magazines (and their digital counterparts) that appear alongside other editorial content
- Branded content that appears as part of your social media feed
- Sponsored results in a search engine
- Product placement in movies, TV shows and video games
While not an exhaustive list, hopefully, I’ve illustrated the variety available when it comes to native advertising formats.
The Benefits of Native Advertising
Native advertising has a number of advantages over its alternatives.
For starters, native ads are far more likely to be seen
in any given format, with reports suggesting they are up to twice as likely
to be viewed by a reader. This makes sense logically, as while traditional banner ads are often only processed by our peripheral vision, native ads – for example, sponsored posts/articles/tweets that show up in your feed – will receive as much attention as the other content within that feed as our eyes are focused directly on that area of the screen.
Those extra eyeballs can be put to good use. Not only can marketers optimize these ads to appear and read like normal content, but they can use precise wording in combination with brand assets such as product images or logos to trigger subconscious associations with that brand in the viewer’s mind.
When employed effectively, native ads have been proven
to improve brand affinity by 32% and improve purchase intent by 54%. Compare this to banner ads, which are shown to improve brand affinity by 23% and purchase intent by 34%. These ads can even serve to strengthen a viewer’s self-identification with a brand they have already purchased, with 71% of prior consumers saying they personally identify with a brand after viewing a native ad, as opposed to 50% saying the same after viewing a banner ad.
Native ads are also nearly 70% more likely to be shared within the viewer’s network than a banner ad. Particularly in the case where they provide valuable insight, information, or entertainment like any other piece of content.
However, in order to realize these benefits, a strategy to employ native advertising must be well thought out
. For maximum effect, you have to consider your target market and what native advertising vehicles are most appropriate for your brand because ultimately, greater exposure means greater risk.
Zach is a recent graduate of the Schulich School of Business MBA program, where he specialized in both Marketing and Arts and Media Administration. He is passionate about the connections between branding, entertainment, and technology. He can be reached directly by email at email@example.com or through twitter @ZachGoldglas.