With the rapidly expanding emphasis on mobile and online media, advertisers are having to scramble to make new connections with consumers. In recent months, many brands have begun to utilize native advertising.
This concept is the complete antithesis of traditional web-based advertisements. It rejects age-old standbys like banner ads in favor of greatly increased content integration. In simple terms, this transforms the advertisement from something that intrudes on whatever a person is browsing through to something that literally becomes part of what they are looking at.
Popular websites such as BuzzFeed, which only employs native advertising, have pioneered this technique. BuzzFeed, which aggregates popular social media and news stories in highly visual articles and photo-based lists, often runs sponsored articles that take the exact same form as anything else that the site might run, but also emphasizes a particular brand or product.
For example, an agency looking to promote a new horror film may publish a list on BuzzFeed of the ten scariest scenes in the history of cinema. On this list, a viewer would find hair-raising classics like The Excorcist and The Omen alongside stills from the promoted film. In this way, the consumer still gets the content that they want, but they also take in an advertisement with it. Critically, this form of advertising doesn’t distract from media, unlike traditional advertising, which often can interrupt the flow of content rather jarringly.
Recently, native advertising has debuted on Facebook and Twitter, in the form of sponsored stories and promoted tweets. These both appear in a user’s timeline, just like a status update or tweet, but link to a brand’s website or an article that emphasizes product placement.
Native advertising has also presented an interesting opportunity for brands to partner with media companies in new ways. Twitter’s partnership with American Express has led to a new rewards program through which American Express customers can earn special perks by tweeting hashtags associated with the company.
Depending on the platform selected, native advertising can instantly provide a credibility boost to the company utilizing it. For example, news sources such as the New York Times are renowned for their quality and credibility. Native advertising on their website can go a long way in ensuring a particular brand’s credibility.
Some, such as BuzzFeed President Jon Steinberg, believe that native advertising will eventually become not only the dominant form of advertising, but the only form of advertising. Native advertising emphasizes consumer connection like nothing else that the marketing world has been able to produce. While it’s safe to say that native advertising won’t completely supplant all other forms of marketing any time in the immediate future, it’s model of interactive content and consumer targeted advertising certainly presents an intriguing option for companies looking to gain a competitive edge over competitors.
All the images compiled above came from BuzzFeed.