Native advertising has become one of the most effective tools in a company’s overall marketing plan. And magazine publishers appreciate the medium because of the high cost per mile (CPM, or cost per thousand impressions) they can charge. But what is native advertising, and how can publishers and advertisers derive the most benefit from this format?
What is native advertising?
Native advertising, also called sponsored or branded content, is advertising that is written through collaboration between the advertiser and publisher and hosted on the publisher’s platform or within the pages of its publication. It is designed with the look and feel of the native content around it, which can make it appear more credible in the eyes the reader.
Many people mistakenly believe that content marketing is the same thing as native advertising. However, whereas native advertising is typically created by a publisher’s writing team and hosted on the publisher’s platform, content marketing is produced by the brand and hosted on its own platform.
What both formats have in common is that the content is valuable and is never a sales pitch. Both can drive traffic to the advertiser’s website while providing solutions for a targeted audience.
Native advertising is evolving
Gone are the days of a simple article blending in to the surrounding content. These days, when you talk about sponsored content you could be talking about anything from videos to social media posts to events. The challenge is getting advertisers to think outside the traditional formats.
Here is just a sampling of the innovative ways publishers and brands are using custom content:
- Marketing company Media Planet created a video for PayPal outlining its program to help women re-enter the workforce after taking time off. The company also creates infographics showing stats and tips for clients because infographics “are liked and shared on social media three times more than any other content.”
- The publisher of Garden & Gun magazine plans to organize a destination trip to Italy centered around an earlier article about Italian firearms maker Beretta.
- Forbes created a year-long multimedia sponsored content campaign about artificial intelligence (AI), which consisted of more than 50 pieces of custom content in addition to events.
- According to the Native Advertising Institute, one of the fastest growing areas of native advertising is programmatic ad serving. It uses a combination of automation, algorithms, and AI to target specific audiences and maximize performance.
Benefits and best practices
One of the reasons native advertising is so popular and effective is because it seems more like valuable information than sales copy. It can make a brand’s advertising stand out amongst the sea of traditional display ads. It can be customized according to your target audience needs and media preferences (video, white papers, infographics). In addition, native advertising:
- Is looked at 53% more often than display ads. Readers have learned to ignore traditional advertising.
- Doesn’t disrupt the reader; the content blends in seamlessly to the publication’s other content.
- Builds loyalty and trust by providing useful information and solutions.
- Encourages audience engagement and interactions with thought leaders.
To reap the most from native advertising, publishers and brands should heed some best practices. For instance:
- Tell a story; don’t sell.
- Be transparent and honest.
- Use faces and familiar imagery to help trigger emotions.
- Target readers wisely. Consider type of company, end goals, KPIs, and budgets.
- Always be testing (A/B and multivariate) to determine best practices for improving the effectiveness of native advertising campaigns.
Native ads are changing up the traditional advertising and branding practices and offer numerous ways to grab readers’ attention, gain their trust, and convince them to take action. But it’s important to understand how to create effective native ads so that you don’t do the opposite and alienate your readers.
Contact your Sheridan representative for a consultation or visit our contact page to learn how Sheridan professionals can help you streamline your publishing processes, reduce costs, and keep up with changes in print and publishing strategies.