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  • 1. guide The Comprehensive Guide to Native Advertising The Comprehensive Guide to Native Advertising A Vocus eBook Paid For and Posted by XYZ iPad 10:15AM Promoted by XYZ Sponsored by XYZ GET VOCUS. VOCUS GETS BUSINESS. GET STARTED NOW AT VOCUS.COM
  • 2. The Comprehensive Guide to Native Advertising The Comprehensive Guide to Native Advertising A Vocus eBook Native advertising – the purchasing of sponsored content on social networks and online websites – dominated digital marketing conversations the past year. Market research company BIA/Kelsey estimates that U.S. native ad spending on social sites might have reached $2.36 billion in 2013, or 38.9 percent of total U.S. paid social ad expenditures. How can you effectively work native advertising into your marketing mix? This eBook highlights some techniques brands are using to do just that. It will show you the rich native advertising ecosystem of publishers, vendors, social networks and search engines that help companies create, manage and track content. Finally, we’ll show you the ethical issues to avoid with sponsored content. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently held a meeting with brands and publishers to discuss native advertising – and while some issues were highlighted, others were raised. Your brand can use this set of tools, as long as the ads disclose sponsorship so that consumers are better informed. iPad 10:15AM
  • 3. The Comprehensive Guide to Native Advertising What is Native Advertising? In The New York Times example below, the post is clearly labeled as “Paid For and Posted by Dell.” A survey from Online Publishers Association says native ads include “coniPad tent integrated into the design of 10:15AM the publishers site, living in the same domain, as well as content either provided by, produced in conjunction with or created on behalf of our advertisers that runs within the editorial stream.” In native ads, there is a clear delineation, labeling the unit as ad content. The Interactive Advertising Bureau defines six types of native ad units in its mustread, “Native Advertising Playbook”: OO And Buzzfeed integrates their native advertising in the Social media in-feed units (such as Facebook’s ads with a social context) OO Paid search OO Recommendation form of posts written by the brand, which is delineated as a “BuzzFeed Partner.” widgets (often seen as “From Around the Web”) OO Promoted listings OO Standard ads with native elements (banner or box with text or placed at beginning of post) OO Custom campaigns created with the client This graphic shows an “in-feed” example, from Forbes’ homepage. It looks like other articles, but is clearly called out as a “Forbes BrandVoice.” The disclosure indicates sponsored content, in this case by Gyro, a B2B marketing firm. Edelman Public Relations’ Chief Content Strategist Steve Rubel sums it up succinctly: “I’d define native advertising as taking that which is organic and flipping it around into advertising.1” Native ads aren’t unique to online publications like Forbes or Mashable. Facebook’s ads (and, for now, their “sponsored stories”2) and Twitter’s “Promoted Tweets” are examples of sponsored content appearing in social networks. Unlike the Facebook banner ads, content ads such as photo posts 1 Conversation with Steve Rubel, 1/2/14 2 Sponsored Stories will “sunset” on April 9th of 2014, http://allfacebook.com/sponsored-stories-sunset-april-9_b128224
  • 4. The Comprehensive Guide to Native Advertising are paid promotions of actions that a user’s friends take on While debate on content marketing vs. advertising the platform, including check-ins, “likes” or RSVPs. They can go on all day, the form is considered native appear directly in the News Feed. Page owners can target advertising, implying a payoff for the marketer as well as ads via Facebook’s ad manager. the consumer. A brand may have their own account on Twitter, but much of their content is not seen because most people are not on Twitter at any given moment. A Promoted Tweet shows up in the stream for users who follow that account or are targeted based on the user’s expressed interests, geography or device. The Promoted Tweet is noted as “promoted,” but appears natural within the user’s stream, “integrated into the design” of the site. Edelman PR’s Rubel says, “If you look at search content with paid search results, that’s the model. If you look at Tweets and Promoted Tweets, that’s the model. And it’s working.” Content Marketing vs. Native Advertising Currently, many firms are using “content marketing” to reach customers. Native advertising has a lot in common with content marketing; however, content marketing is typically text, video or other media that is intended to inform the customer, providing something of value. Much of content marketing builds brand over time. This paper itself is an example of content marketing - a neutral point-of-view piece of content that is not selling a specific service or product, but educates marketers as a service from Vocus. Alternately, native advertising is material that is sponsored. While it may offer valuable content, it is still an ad trying to offer a product, service or point of view. Often times, native advertising is used to expand the reach of content marketing – to get more eyes on the content produced by a brand. Forbes Chief Product Officer Lewis DVorkin reminds us that what we consider “content” is often marketing in disguise. The Michelin Guide for travel and accommodations was started to encourage travel (and inevitable tire replacement). How Does Native Advertising Fit Into the Marketing Mix? Many brands struggle with how native ads should fit within their larger marketing strategy. Native ads straddle several tactics, including social engagement, owned media, and of course, paid advertising. But how does it help a brand achieve its objectives? “When we think about the distribution, amplification and ultimately, the engagement with content – that’s where we think about our client’s goals,” says Edelman Digital’s Executive VP of Emerging Media and Technology Adam Hirsch. Hirsch notes ways in which native advertising can assist a marketer at the top of their funnel with acquisition and brand awareness, as well as ways to generate leads and conversions. Brand building and awareness are at the top of the traditional sales funnel. Creating articles that run in relevant publications can help make customers aware of your products, services and offerings. Publishing content in a Forbes, The New York Times, or BuzzFeed environment delivers lots of attention and possibly perception change or consideration regarding products or offerings. Sponsored content can generate conversions and create leads. For example, social media in-stream ads can have similar targeting ability to email and marketing automation, according to Hirsch. “Facebook amplification has been pretty great for us because you can optimize for engagement or conversions that you can track,” says Hirsch. “[Facebook offers] content that you’re able to amplify in a segmented and personalized
  • 5. The Comprehensive Guide to Native Advertising way. Through first-party targeting with their ‘custom audi- “In ‘old school lead’ generation, depending on industry and ences’ product, through third party use of pixels or retar- company, the cost of leads can range from a few dollars geting, Facebook is providing the ability to target users on to thousands of dollars,” says Hirsch. “With hyper-targeted exclusive social segmentation sets based on what they’re networks, psychographic targeting and retargeting, you can talking about or what their interests are.” bring your cost-per-lead down significantly.” Measuring 3 results and seeing what types of content resonate on which Native ads can also help your brand with bottom of the funnel networks and platforms is an absolute must in native adver- activity by converting existing and new customers. For tising, as “best practices” are not yet established. example, a brand can create sponsored content ads directed specifically at Facebook users who are already customers. You can also target via “look-alike” audiences who share characteristics with your existing fans and customers. The level of targeting is so sophisticated that, in Hirsch’s words, “You have an opportunity to share an article about your brand only to journalists who work at The New York Times and Wall Street Journal or whatever stakeholder audience you’re targeting.” The Ecosystem of Native Advertising Providers The native ad ecosystem includes content creators, such as companies, brands and agencies, who create the content either alone or in conjunction with the publishers, as well as the search and social networks and vendors offering advertising space. This diagram shows how they work together. Facebook also allows retargeting via its Exchange product. If someone has come to your website to view a prod- Content Platforms uct or service, you can retarget them so that when they return to Facebook they receive an offer or message in the native News Feed stream. Many Facebook targeting functions are offered in the updated advertising manager inter- Publishers Forbes, Mashable, BuzzFeed etc. Native ads "In-Feed" face, but some require working with third party Facebook Content RecommenContent Distribution dation, Outbrain, Sharethrough, Taboola, AddThis and Nativo, others many others Articles, Videos, placed in-feed on publishers' sites Exchange partners. Twitter has similar offerings. The company announced targeting based on interests in 2012 and recently launched the ability to retarget users, and is expected to offer a custom audience product similar to Facebook’s. For example, Twitter empowers restaurants to automatically suggest themselves to someone who is searching for dining recommendations. Search Google, Bing, Yahoo, others Sponsored Search results next to organic results Social Networks Facebook,Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, YouTube, etc. Content showing inside the user's main feed (FB Sponsored stories Twitter Promoted Tweets) Boxes under/near content.Titles like "Content From around the Web" Content Creators Brands themselves Agencies Publisher studios (like Huff Post Partner Studio) How much should you be spending on native advertising? According to Edelman Digital’s Hirsch, it’s important to allocate a reasonable budget to test out and get the most Publishers impact out of native advertising. Publishers are considered the media sites that create online “When it comes to content amplification, start with a content, with regular publication schedules and sizeable $5,000-per-month budget minimum, no matter what size audiences. Web properties such as The New York Times, company you are,” says Hirsch. “You need enough money Forbes, The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed and Mashable all in the budget to start testing what’s working. So every have different ways of presenting and promoting native ad month, optimize between networks, test on the networks content to their audiences. The New York Times states that themselves, and see what’s working to figure out your native ads will have a color bar and the words “Paid Post” optimal media mix. prominently displayed. 3 See Vocus FB Guide for how to create custom audiences.
  • 6. The Comprehensive Guide to Native Advertising Forbes shows native ads under the branding “BrandVoice” can get a lot of value. Some of them even have “studios” that and the units can be seen on the lower portion of its home- will help you create content without the six-figure budget. page. Forbes BrandVoice partners use the masthead’s tools to publish content. Their headlines and their posts – the native ad content – flow though the content management system onto Forbes.com. Content Platforms Vendors are developing products to help brands place their content adjacent to high quality editorials. An Altimeter In anticipation of December 2013’s FTC hearing on Group report on the native advertising landscape lists more native advertising, Forbes published specific statistics on than 40 vendors, including Outbrain, Taboola, AddThis, its BrandVoice platform. DVorkin states, “1,100 total Brand- and Sharethrough. Voice posts generated 821,000 social shares. Those actions resulted in 565,000 social referrals to content [on the Forbes There are two main types of content platforms – content site]. Search referrals generated an additional 1.1 million distribution and recommendation, and native feed insertion. visits.” Partners had as many as 13,500 views per post, with up to 120,000 monthly unique visitors to the content Content distribution and recommendation platforms tend published on Forbes’ site. to show their content next to or below the main page content. They typically serve a widget that offers related con- How much does a native ad campaign cost? According to tent from within the site, as well as “From Around the Web.” a Digiday report from June 2013, campaigns can Users are targeted via cookies and other mechanisms, and range from as little as $5,000 for a post on the content is personalized based on previous clicks and the Business Insider to as much as $100,000 context of the current page. Marketers bid on a cost-per- for five posts on BuzzFeed. For example, click basis and can analyze their traffic to optimize results. The Huffington Post charges $40,000 for an article, but promotes it on their site for four days. Such a promotion would yield approximately 20 million Vendor Outbrain Format Business Model for referring traffic widgets on sites like how many audience members click Websites are paid mended Content” impressions. However, it is not known “Additional Recom- outbound. CNN, Time, and through and read the content, nor what Rolling Stone. actions they take. Marketers pay on a cost-per-click basis, Personalized via alternatives. “Consider working with ‘mid-shelf sites,’ with with a $10 mini- individual’s brows- If publishing prices for top websites alarm you, there are mum daily budget. ing habits. publishers who are experimenting,” says Edelman PR’s Steve Rubel. “There are sites in the ‘mid-tail,’ below the ComScore Real-time analytics. 1000, and you can experiment in everything from newsletters to event co-branding. Taboola “Content You May Websites generate “Webinars have a similar business model,” says Rubel. “If Like” widgets on revenue by hosting you’re looking to experiment on big sites with a lower bud- USA Today, TMZ sponsored content. get, pick your spots with publishers that will drive some sort and more. Video of meaningful brand-building within that platform. If you and text. Cost-per-click model, plus more know that a BuzzFeed or Mashable is not going to cover you at length, you could use budget to create a one-time boost Targets users with premium platform within that particular site.” content, uses A/B with dedicated sales testing to improve team. B2B and trade magazine sites are experimenting and you ROI.
  • 7. The Comprehensive Guide to Native Advertising Native-feed insertion companies like Nativo and Share- on the Web for the bottom half of the funnel, but there aren’t through let marketers place content right in the organic great mechanisms for the top of the funnel, both in terms of areas of the website, in the feed or on the main page of creative that has impact and that’s scalable, and also is mea- a site. surable.” Nativo offers the ability to drop a retargeting pixel, Sharethrough Self-service ads No minimum for show “in-feed” on self-service, CPM mobile. Full service basis. model guarantees impressions, on Full service is a desktop and mobile. minimum $20,000 spend. Targeting via DMA anisms. Both vendors note that direct response can work if the content shared has a specific response call-to-action. Search and Social In addition to the platforms that help brands put their messages adjacent to or within the context of a publishing site, search engines and social networking sites provide a way and Zip Geographic, to put brand content in the main context of the user expe- behavioral/lifestyle, rience. Most web users are already familiar with the spon- and contextual in sored search results that appear on the top and right sides verticals like busi- of Google, Bing and Yahoo! search results pages. This is ness or entertain- probably one of the earliest and most ubiquitous examples ment. Nativo so companies can use their existing bottom-funnel mech- of native ads, as it appears “integrated into the design of the Self-service model. Works with limited Targeting includes number of premium geography and brands, primarily device, control over through agencies. placement, real time monitoring of time Cost-per-thousand spent with content. publishers site.” Social networks have followed suit. From Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to LinkedIn, most of the major social networks have figured out a way to offer content from advertisers where users previously expected content from friends. buying, with a minimum spend around Placement into $20K. Includes en- many major pubs, gagement analytics. on desktop, mobile Platform and Content Unit How It Works Cost Model Facebook • Page owner Self-service via ad manager. and within mobile Text, images, slide- ads with promotes a fan’s apps. shows and video a social actions taken on a content. context page to amplify with (formerly the action-taker’s “sponsored friends. stories”) • Works with likes, These networks put content right into partners’ site feeds. Sharethrough’s Tom Channick, senior communications manager, claims this is the most effective way to reach people, especially on mobile. He suggests testing targeting with different pieces of content, and monitoring results to see what content works. The Sharethrough team has to approve all content, since Channick says the company doesn’t want their distribution platform to be sharing “belly fat” and “lower mortgage” ads. Nativo President Justin Choi says, “Native [ads] typically focus on the top of the funnel. There are great mechanisms check-ins, use of a game, RSVP’ing to an event, or posting on page. • Extensive targeting.
  • 8. The Comprehensive Guide to Native Advertising Platform and Content Unit Instagram How It Works Cost Model on Twitter and start promoting your Tweets if you have no followers. Sponsored stories can help grow a brand’s likes and followers, but only when the content resonates with users. • Shows as a spon- Initially working sored picture within only with brands the native stream. that have exten- A sponsored story promoting a post that has little organic sive followings. traction will probably do poorly. Promoting content that See Burberry and is already being shared to a wider audience is a recipe Michael Kors as for success.4 examples. Content is Still King Twitter Native advertising requires quality content. tent delivers context, people gladly • Recommended embrace it as something worth- follows. while and useful. Furthermore, • Targeted via inter- publications est, gender, geog- content to strict editorial stan- raphy, by device, dards. Not every message can and via audience be a textual article featured on similarity to existing Forbes or Mashable, and creat- followers. Tweets Self-service via boosted to the top of ad management interface. stream, marked as promoted. Promoted • Regular tweets, ing content for both properties Studies show that if sponsored con- hold iPad 10:15AM sponsored can cost a significant amount. LinkedIn Sponsored Updates and content ads • Promotes content Via ad manager. At the same time, creating singular shared via a Cadillac pieces also exposes companies company page to to risk of must-succeed situations. a wider audience, extensive targeting “Instead of creating one gigantic piece of content, try several; capabilities. use a PR post, link an article, post a Vine video, run them through the platform and see what works,” says Share- Rubel states, “For the social networks and search, this is their through’s Channick. entire business model. It’s no longer display. Their model is effectively to integrate – to take the organic structure and The media type also greatly affects how it is presented. flip it around to an ad.” “[Producers] put a can of Diet Coke on ‘American Idol’ and no one complains,” says Rubel. “Or a radio DJ gives away tickets “LinkedIn is a huge opportunity, especially for specific types to a concert and plugs it, no one complains. The closer you of companies or specific types of messages from those com- are to entertainment-based or lifestyle content, the more panies, whether it’s for a B2B or B2C audience,” says Hirsch. the lines get blurry and the deeper the topic can be inte- “There are a lot of key audiences you can target directly from grated, provided it’s not a product review type of post.” LinkedIn for content amplification from company pages. Its usage is dramatically increasing across Edelman, with the “I think that’s giving BuzzFeed the ability to really do that in product out only for the last three months or so. It’s a new earnest because a lot of the ways they integrate brands is ‘owned’ media channel for content amplification.” through lifestyle content,” says Rubel. “Native ads get most disruptive the closer they are to being straight up advertorial Anyone can create ads on social networks, but smart brands in nature, and interruptive as opposed to additive. The leverage their existing presence. For example, don’t jump efficacy of that remains to be seen.” 4 http://images.prsoftware.vocus.com/Web/Vocus/%7Bca91784d-8997-494c-8237-8e77fad39d39%7D_Vocus_-_New_Facebook_Guide.pdf
  • 9. The Comprehensive Guide to Native Advertising Creating great amounts of content often isn’t “native” to challenging to know how much they need to disclose, and midsized companies or smaller brands. They may be used for consumers to understand how much an advertiser has to creating brochures, posting blog posts or even sharing played a role in presenting content to them.” content on networks. But some of these new formats, along with the corresponding content types and targeting, will Some publications clearly denote content is sponsored. be unfamiliar. Other sites are less forthcoming. Another challenge, claims Chernaik, is that people use different words to describe Rebecca Lieb notes in the Altimeter Group report that the ad units, such as “sponsored” or “promoted” when they education and training will be required. Marketers need to really mean “advertisement.” “The industry needs to step up, apply skillsets like strategy, content, media buying and a or a regulator needs to say ‘This is what we expect,’ and it’s social component. For companies that don’t have the staff often better if the industry steps up,” adds Chernaik. 5 to handle content creation or who wish to outsource it, publishers like The Huffington Post provide “studios” to Consider Forbes’ “BrandVoice,” which create content on behalf of advertisers. The company has is marked at the top of articles and staff separate from the journalists and video creators who has a disclosure link that states, work with brands and agencies. “Forbes BrandVoice™ allows marketers to connect directly “The native advertising space relies on catchy headlines, and with the Forbes audience by it’s important [to] write content that people really want to enabling them to create con- access,” says Tom Chernaik, CEO of CMP.LY, a monitoring, tent – and participate in the measurement and insight tool company. Chernaik is also conversation – on the Forbes co-chair of the Member’s Ethics Advisory Panel at the Word digital publishing platform.” of Mouth Marketing Association. “What’s driving all of this Will the FTC accept the phrasing is that content gets shared by people. You want to make “Connecting marketers to the sure that it’s clear where the content comes from.” Forbes audience” instead of “sponsored content?” It remains to be seen. Adding a social dimension of amplification to the content that’s being shared natively is another point made by Lieb, The previously mentioned “IAB Native Advertising Play- Rubel and Hirsch. Having content seen once is a benefit. book” takes some of the first steps towards industry self-reg- Having it shared many times can reduce your overall cost ulation by publishing disclosure principles, which state that of customer acquisition. “The disclosure must use language that conveys that the advertising has been paid for.” The FTC also states advertise- Disclosure and Challenges ments “must be large and visible enough for the consumer to “Consumers, overall, are responding very well to native device the ad is being viewed on.” notice it in the context of a given page and/or relative to the ads, and that’s why it’s such an appealing area for advertisers,” says Chernaik. However, the FTC is asking questions to protect consumers. Consumers should be able to distinguish between paid advertising and editorial content. The problems can extend to content when it leaves the publisher’s site. The commission held a meeting in Washington, D.C. last December to Chernaik noted that if something is showing on a page, explore these issues. “How clear do you there may be disclosures, but in a feed or on someone’s need to make it, and when do you need timeline, it may not be clear to consumers, which is where to make it clear that something is actu- the FTC may step in. He warns, “People are focusing on it as ally sponsored content?” asks Chernaik. an ad medium, and you get tripped up when you look at it “Since there’s no standard way to disclose as ads. The component that makes it so compelling isn’t the it, or to present the information, it becomes ad component, it’s the word-of-mouth component. That 5 Chart on Page 11, http://www.altimetergroup.com/2013/09/new-research-defining-and-mapping-the-native-advertising-landscape.html
  • 10. The Comprehensive Guide to Native Advertising wasn’t addressed in the FTC workshop. It’s the buzz that Services like Outbrain, AddThis and others offer self-service builds around the content that drives native advertising, not ways to promote content in the context of large publisher’s the content presentation.” sites without having to directly deal with the publishers and their budget minimums. Bid-based marketplaces encour- The FTC has not taken formal action yet, but since age experimentation and give marketers a chance to hone they’ve previously issued guidance on making their messages and content types while controlling spend. blog and celebrity endorsements more clear, These services can help make an already popular post more it is reasonable to think they will monitor the widely shareable. Nativo, Sharethrough and others put native ad ecosystem with similar vigilance. brand content right into the feed on multiple publishers’ sites, with targeting and analytics to measure the results. “The real question,” says Edelman’s Rubel, “is ‘What does the reader want?’ I know what the technology vendors, publishers, and advertisers Using analytics and setting key performance indicators (KPIs) will help you evaluate all the offerings discussed. want from native advertising. I don’t necessarily know what the audience wants from this yet.” As a marketer, it will be more important than ever to test multiple content formats. Will native advertising result in Research shows the efficacy of native ads. According to the promised payoff of higher engagement and interaction a study by Interpublic Group’s IPG Media Lab and Share- – as much as 39 percent higher in some cases? Only your through, consumers looked at sponsored content 52 per- own tests, metrics and KPIs will answer that question. cent more frequently than banner ads. Native ads generated 9 percent higher brand affinity lift and 18 percent higher One thing is for sure – 2014 is definitely the year to try purchase intent response than banners. native advertising. Conclusion Consider how you can apply native ads to your larger marketing stream. Ask the right questions: Will they help convert sales? Or will you use them to amplify and build social brand and content marketing activities? Once you decide, consider your options from the increasingly rich world of native advertising providers. Search and social networks may be the easiest entry points into sponsored content for brands. Many of these choices, from Facebook’s ads and Twitter’s Promoted Tweets to LinkedIn’s Sponsored Updates are self-service offerings. These social networks offer guides and case studies that explain best practices and walk marketers through the steps needed to execute a campaign. Native units are most helpful to brands that already have a presence on the networks and who know how their users respond to content. Working with publishers can be a potentially expensive endeavor unless you find a site that’s willing to work with a smaller brand. Look for more midrange sites to offer sponsored content opportunities to attract first-time buyers. Most publications have or are planning an offering on their digital site. About Vocus Marketing can be hard. To help you succeed and generate more revenue, Vocus offers an integrated suite of the most powerful tools you need. We help you attract and engage prospects on social media, search engines and in the news. We get your message in front of the right prospects at the right time with tools, customized landing pages and targeted emails. Our suite includes a social CRM to manage the activity of your prospects and customers, and integrated analytics to discover what drives likes, shares, opens, click-throughs and conversions. With our marketing consulting and services team ready to help, Vocus delivers marketing success. Find out more at www.vocus.com. Connect with us: