Native Advertising: An Easy Guide


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Native advertising is a concept that has been floating around in marketing circles for a few years but has recently been generating a massive amount of buzz in mainstream media far and wide. Yet, for all of the hype and discussion, there is still immense confusion around what native advertising is, how it works, why it works and whether or not it is good for brands, banner ads and publishers.

In our new e-book Erin Lanuti, SVP, Director of Paid and Integrated Strategy for MSLGROUP in North America, provides a definition of native advertising, explains the different types that exist – publisher and social networks – and how they work. We explore some recent data on the type of ROI native advertising is delivering as well as how to optimize a campaign. And last but not least we end with the top 10 reasons why native advertising should be included in the marketer’s mix.

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Native Advertising: An Easy Guide

  1. 1. Native Advertising: An Easy Guide By Erin B. Lanuti, SVP, Director of Integrated and Paid Strategy, North America MSLGROUP
  2. 2. Advertising Native advertising has generated a lot of buzz and excitement ... ...around what it means for brands and publishers. Unfortunately, what Native advertising is and how it works is something that the communications industry is far less clear on. The purpose of this guide is to give a definition of what Native advertising is, what it isn’t as well as how it works.
  3. 3. What is Native advertising? PAID OWNED EARNED According to Altimeter Group,1 Native advertising is a form of converged media that combines paid, owned and earned media into a form of “commercial messaging” that is fully integrated into a specific delivery platform. This can be done as a one-off with a publisher or at scale across multiple publishers. The New York Times, who itself hosts Native advertising, had a far less technical definition, “Native advertising is advertising wearing the uniform of journalism, mimicking the storytelling aesthetic of the host site.”2 MSLGROUP believes that: Native advertising is the ability to embed a brand’s storytelling - either text or video or a combination of the two - in a publisher’s content well . When selected, the user stays within the publisher’s site to experience the content and thus it appears “native” to the site. 1 2 Altimeter Group, September 10, 2013 New York Times, September 15, 2013 3
  4. 4. Where can Native advertising be executed? Native advertising can be executed across a wide variety of media publishers and platforms such as: ≠ ≠ Publisher sites and blogs such as Buzzfeed, Business Insider, CNN Money, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Internet Brands, Kiplinger, Maxim, Motor Trend, Reader’s Digest, Source Interlink, The New York Times, The Street, USA Today Sports Media Group, WebMD, and a few thousand more. Social Networks - All top social networks have native products. Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr. Representative sampling of publisher sites and social networks currently offering native advertising products: Publisher Sites Offering Native Advertising Products PUBLISHER NATIVE PRODUCTS BUZZFEED Listicles, Sponsored Articles BUSINESS INSIDER Sponsored Articles, Sponsored Slideshows, Sponsored Videos CNN MONEY Sponsored Content, Sponsored Stories ENTREPRENEUR Sponsored Stories, Sponsored Posts FORBES BrandVoice INTERNET BRANDS Sponsored Stories, Sponsored Posts KIPLINGER Sponsored Stories, Sponsored Posts MAXIM Sponsored Stories, Sponsored Posts MOTOR TREND Sponsored Stories, Sponsored Posts READER’S DIGEST Sponsored Stories, Sponsored Posts THE STREET Sponsored Stories, Sponsored Posts USAT SPORTS MEDIA Sponsored Stories, Sponsored Videos WEBMD Sponsored Stories, Sponsored Posts …and a few thousand more. Social Networks Offering Native Advertising Products PLATFORM FACEBOOK Sponsored Stories, Page Post Ads FOURSQUARE Sponsored Listings, Promoted Check-in LINKEDIN Sponsored Stories, Sponsored Updates PINTEREST Promoted Pins TUMBLR Sponsored Radar, Spotlight, Sponsored Posts (Web/Mobile) TWITTER 4 NATIVE PRODUCTS Promoted Tweets, Promoted Trends, Promoted Accounts
  5. 5. How Native advertising works: But how Native advertising is executed and its transparency remains a critical differentiator of good and bad Native strategy. Native can be executed in a variety of ways, direct with a publisher or at scale. The example below is based on a publisher site. HEADLINE FULL ARTICLE SOCIAL SHARING Regardless of the direction, the core native advertising tenants remain the same with a user flow similar to the one above. Native content matches the publisher site design and the look and feel of the surrounding editorial content. Headline is shown in publisher content well and marked “promoted” or “sponsored” and the brand name is attached. When clicked, Native advertising content also behaves like surrounding editorial content in that the article opens within the publisher site and provides a full user experience which can consist of an article plus photos, videos, infographics, white papers, slideshares, etc. This is the fusion of paid and owned. The user is then provided the option to share the content. In a social example, the promoted tweet or sponsored story would be in the newsfeed (content well) and when clicked the user would stay on the site. 5
  6. 6. How Native advertising can be scaled: There has been much recent debate about the ability to scale Native advertising. At MSLGROUP we are fortunate to have the largest native ad network in North America in our network, Nativo. With more than 1,500 publisher sites, Nativo enables us to have automated scaled distribution of brand-voiced content made native in real-time for desktop and mobile devices. Through our scale platform we can target consumers with contextually relevant content via: ≠ Context ≠ IAB vertical categories ≠ Geography (DMA) ≠ Device ≠ Time of day 6
  7. 7. How Native advertising can be optimized: We can test, measure and optimize content quickly and easily, and we do. The Native campaigns we have run have performed 5x-20x industry norms for banner ad click rates. Native advertising should be considered a fantastic tool to drive upper funnel metrics like awareness, preference and favorability. In addition, many new studies have shown Native advertising success driving brand lift and purchase intent metrics: ≠ IPG Media Lab reports seeing lift and purchase intent metrics rise by 40- 50%.2 ≠ Markerly found that when retargeting off of Native advertising, 76% were able to recall the brand name and context of the sponsored story. 91% of those could remember this 24 hours later.3 Native advertising can also drive powerful engagement through custom surveys, polls, coupons, video, mobile app downloads, slide shares, etc. 1 e-marketer, October 7, 2013 2 IPG Media Lab, Versus Banners 3 Markerly, October 2013 7
  8. 8. What Native advertising isn’t: Native advertising is not a banner ad on the periphery aiming to distract attention. Native advertising is not a banner ad repositioned to fit into the content stream and take users off to an external site Consumers have always preferred editorial-driven content. As long as brands continue to publish informative content that is of value to the reader, users couldn’t care less if that content is sponsored or not. Native advertising should be a tool marketers utilize as part of their marketing mix to provide deep engagement across multiple devices and platforms, but it will be especially impactful across mobile. 8
  9. 9. Why Native advertising works: Our top 10 reasons why we believe Native advertising should be a component of a brand’s content strategy: Top 10 Reasons Why Native Advertising Should Be Considered Native advertising is a powerful new tool that helps brands get closer to providing consumers with storytelling in a contextually relevant fashion that can elevate a client’s narrative and overall equity. 9
  10. 10. Erin Lanuti is SVP, Director of Paid and Integrated Strategy for MSLGROUP in North America. Erin works with clients across the network to create cross-channel plans that deliver a media multiplier effect that yields stronger engagement and a deeper business ROI. @erinlanuti on Twitter,