Ask the Experts: How Do You Define Native Advertising?

October 3, 2016

Knock, knock!

Who’s there?

Interruption marketing.

Notice that there is no “Interruption marketing who?” in the joke above. That’s because as soon as a consumer is interrupted by marketing, they don’t stick around to engage further.

Consumers today are saturated with advertising messages. They’re on the sites we frequent, crammed into the sides, top and bottom. They autoplay video and audio. They pop up in front of what we actually want to look at: “Knock, knock! Oh, I’m sorry, were you reading that? Well, I’ll get out of your way. Once you find the hidden X on this window, that is.” Is it any wonder that ad blocking software is on the rise? There are only so many times you can be interrupted before you seek a solution, whether that’s blocking ads or simply finding another site for content.

Content marketing is meant to be an antidote to interruption marketing. Native advertising takes content marketing one step further, enabling your content to co-exist in the same format as the rest of the content on a website or in a social media feed. It’s a tactic for getting your best content in front of an audience in a way that’s participatory, not interruptive.

As much buzz as there is around native advertising, it’s still an evolving strategy in which the best practices are still being defined. So in our recent eBook Native Advertising: What It Is. How to Do It., we asked a panel of experts how they define native advertising, and why they believe it’s effective. Read on for their insights.

Dan Greenberg, CEO, Sharethrough

Native ads are a type of paid media that fit the form and function of the user experience on the site or app in which they’re placed. In short, they’re ads that fit in.

Native ads are indeed paid placements (“ad units”) but unlike the fixed-size boxes we traditionally think of as ads, native ads are made of component parts (a headline, a thumbnail, a brand name, a video, a few lines of text) that assemble to fit in naturally to whatever user experience they’re rendered within.

The most prevalent form of native advertising are in-feed ads, ads that fit inside a feed of other stories and content (think LinkedIn, Facebook, Buzzfeed, New York Times, etc). Note that the creation of a piece of branded content is not itself a native ad. It’s when a marketer pays to promote that post to get it seen by users that makes it become a native ad. 

John Hall, CEO, Influence & Co.

Native advertising is a form of camouflaged advertising that blends in with the existing content typically on the platform. There’s a right way to do it and there’s a wrong way. Bad native advertising doesn’t belong there, it’s not valuable, it doesn’t make sense and it is just a paid placement that can lose trust with a reader. Good native advertising is valuable to the reader and sits naturally with the platform to engage the reader.

Luke Kintigh, Global Media and Content Strategist, Intel

It’s about looking at advertising as both the format and function of the ad being native to the experience of the site. Creative has to become native to the site experience and user expectation.

Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute

Native advertising is paid content— usually educational in some way—that runs in the flow of, and looking very similar to, editorial content. If you are talking about piece of editorial content, native advertising looks and feels like a regular article. If you are talking about a social ad, it looks like the other postings.

Chris Tuff, EVP, Director of Business Development and Partnerships, 22squared

Where banner ads and pre-rolls are examples of unwelcome intruders, native advertising is a welcome intruder.

Dennis Yu, Chief Technology Officer, Blitzmetrics

First, I think a more accurate term for it is “native amplification.” That said, native advertising is generally paid media that looks to be organic because of the nature of the placement, how it looks, and the fact that the content is more engaging than direct selling. Real native advertising is the core of content marketing, where the content was born organically and you pay to distribute it through various networks.

Download Native Advertising: What It Is. How to Do It. for more expert advice and real-world native advertising tactics.