Ask the Expert: Dan Greenberg on Getting Results with Native Advertising on LinkedIn

September 20, 2016

Some marketers feel that ad blockers may spell the end of marketing as we know it. At least 10% of internet users have an ad blocker installed already. As more platforms embrace the software, that number will only grow.

The truth is, though, that this customer behavior is an opportunity to improve, not a death knell for the industry. It’s a call for marketers to be savvier about serving up branded content in a way consumers will embrace, not block.

Native advertising is a key component of reaching an audience in the ad block era. If we can provide valuable, relevant content in a native format—content that enhances rather than interrupting—people will want to read it.

As part of our recent eBook Native Advertising: What It Is. How to Do It., we asked experts in the field for their native advertising tips and best practices.

Sharethrough CEO Dan Greenberg was kind enough to share his thoughts on the practice with us. Sharethrough is the largest independent company that serves native ads in-feed, connecting their clients with a relevant audience in an immersive way.

Read on to see how he defines native advertising and how you can make your native content more effective.

Q&A with Sharethrough CEO Dan Greenberg:

LinkedIn: What makes native advertising so effective?

Dan: Effective advertising uses deliberate persuasion strategies to influence behavior change. When people are pulled away from what they’re doing, or forced to stop and change context, it’s much harder to trigger action.

Traditional advertising works, but only on the people who are willing to be interrupted. The magic of native advertising is that because it fits in naturally, it trades off of earned attention not forced attention.

When a user proactively chooses to stop scrolling in the feed and read a story, ad effectiveness goes through the roof, as measured by engagement rates, brand lift, purchase intent, and overall cognitive activity. People see banner ads peripherally, but people truly read native ads. And primary attention will always trump peripheral attention.

LinkedIn: How does native advertising fit in with the modern marketing mindset?

Dan: Advertising and marketing is traditionally taught as “the art of war,” with targeting, conquesting, and beachheads. We like to say at Sharethrough that modern marketing is not about the art of war—it’s about the art of syndicating the truth.

Great marketers find and create true stories about their brands and products, and then use native advertising to promote those stories to the people who’d be mostly likely to care. Whether those “true stories” are videos, articles, blog posts, or product reviews, the common thread is that they’re not ads designed to be skipped, but they’re actually just normal content. And that advertising content is often as good as or better than the non-advertising content surrounding it.

Conceptual example here: let’s say I’m Intel and I’m trying to build awareness and interest in my connected devices partnerships with Oakley and New Balance through native advertising.

I’m not running banners with our collective logos in them — I’m finding the articles and writing the stories that explain our new partnerships and then I’m promoting those stories through paid ads into the feeds of tech and gadget and news sites.

The role of the marketer has changed in a meaningful way. Instead of the marketer saying “I need to push, push, push,” they’re saying “I need to discover the truth about my product, identify the best use cases, find the customers who love it — and then just tell that story through content.”

LinkedIn: What is Sharethrough’s role in the native advertising realm?

Dan: Sharethrough is the white-labeled technology platform that most premium publishers like US Magazine, Esquire, Men’s Health, The New York Times, and ABC News use to power their own versions of native ads. We’re by far the largest independent company serving in-feed native ads.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Yahoo and a handful of the mega-platforms have their own homegrown native ad platforms — we power the native ads for the rest of the web.

Publishers use our “supply side” platform to manage a full stack of native monetization: directly selling native ads to advertisers, selling native ads programmatically through our open exchange or private marketplaces, or by using our technology to manage all of their ad network partners.

Thanks to Dan for taking the time to share with us. For even more practical advice from the experts, download Native Advertising: What It Is. How to Do It.