This year, native advertising spend in the U.S. is expected to top $97 billion and account for 6 out of every 10 dollars spent on display campaigns. There’s good reason these investments continue to grow year over year.
Native advertising is a form of digital advertising that matches the form and function of the content in which it appears. These types of ads are designed to blend in seamlessly with their surroundings, rather than standing out like traditional display ads. In addition, they typically feature and promote educational and entertaining content, versus serving as mere sales promotions, thereby delivering value to users instead of just sales pitches.
Overall, native ads are becoming an increasingly popular way to advertise because they can more effectively reach and engage consumers than traditional forms of advertising. This is especially the case as we enter a privacy-first era where legacy means of tracking users and following them around the internet go by the wayside. Native ads play a unique role within the mid-funnel of advertising, helping brands turn awareness into true consideration by giving audiences the resources they need to shape their decisions at the moments they’re most eager to engage with such information.
Because native advertising represents a blend of content marketing and advertising, the language surrounding it can be a little murky. Native ads and sponsored content are often used interchangeably, even though sponsored content can also exist outside of a native ad experiences. Meanwhile, the phrase “branded native ads” is somewhat redundant because all native advertising is usually branded in some fashion. For the purposes of this guide, we will use the terms “branded native ads” and “native ads” interchangeably. In addition, let’s dig into a few other nuances around native ads and branded content.
Branded content is a type of marketing content that is created by a brand to promote its products or services, but it is not directly promotional. Instead, it is designed to be informative, entertaining, or inspiring, and to build relationships with consumers. Branded content can be created in a variety of formats, including blog posts, articles, videos, infographics, and social media posts.
Examples of branded content include:
On the other hand, native content—pretty much another synonym for native advertising, but referring to the content itself rather than the format—is branded content in advertising form. It is sponsored by a brand, but it is presented in a way that makes it look like it is part of the publisher's regular content. Just like branded content, native content can be created and presented in a variety of formats, including articles, videos, and sponsored social media posts. While branded content is typically created by the brand itself, native content might sometimes be created by a publisher on behalf of a brand.
Examples of native content include:
Since native ads are designed to be non-intrusive, informative, and to blend in with the surrounding content, they can be found on a variety of platforms, including websites, social media, and search engines. Some common examples of native ad formats include:
The above are common examples of how native advertising is infused into online media, but there’s really no limit to the industries that can make use of native advertising, nor the creative ways in which it can be used to get compelling content in front of targeted audiences. Here are just a few more examples of how branded native ads could be leveraged in less-traditional spaces:
Overall, native ads are a versatile and effective way to reach consumers with relevant and engaging content. By carefully designing and targeting these ad experiences, businesses can increase brand awareness, generate leads, and drive sales—all through the power of strong content.
“Branded content ads,” as mentioned earlier, is yet another one of many ways of referring to native advertising. What’s nice about this term is that it emphasizes the true superpower of native advertising: content. The bridge between creating brand awareness and driving conversion is paved with content, and that’s why native advertising is such a powerful means of helping advertisers get a handle on their mid-funnel marketing strategies.
Content is beautiful in its diversity, and the ways in which brands can create high-value native advertising experiences are endless. When deciding how to approach the creation of branded content ads, it can help to start with an understanding of your target audience. What is the type of content that’s most likely to resonate with them? And in what platforms are they most likely to consume that content? With these questions answered, brands can move forward on executing a strong native advertising campaign.
Let’s take a look at examples of highly effective native advertising campaigns across verticals.
A leading beauty retailer recently partnered with Nativo to tackle the challenge of creating and leveraging LGBTQ+ content that not only engaged customers during Pride month with meaningful messaging and action but also carried that momentum beyond June. The beauty retailer leaned on Nativo's in-house creative specialists to craft custom content dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, with the goals of:
By extending their commitment beyond Pride Month, the beauty retailer saw a significant uptick in engagement with its Custom Native Article content, highlighting their year-round dedication to inclusivity. Amplifying LGBTQ+ voices and brands not only drove over 102 percent higher time spent on their content but also achieved a remarkable 33 percent higher call-to-action rate compared to industry benchmarks, underscoring the concrete results of their efforts.
A luxury travel resort was looking for opportunities to drive awareness and increase bookings for its exclusive rooms and luxury suites. The resort worked with Nativo to build a content strategy around driving awareness and consideration for the luxury resort’s offerings and experiences on Maui, using Nativo’s proprietary Native Article format to influence conversions. Leveraging Native Articles engaged consumers interested in traveling by educating them first through vibrant images and videos, and easy-to-follow information about the hotel and travel destination.
Each article had a specific objective:
With the help of native ad placements, the content strongly resonated with luxury travelers, and continued to elevate the brand and educate consumers on why the hotel is right for them. Through engaging long-form content, the brand drove a 2:1 increase in revenue and exceeded the engagement benchmark. Specifically, the resort saw:
This campaign revealed that readers are actively seeking out information on luxury travel and want to be educated in making informed decisions about where to stay and what to do. Eye-catching visuals, aspirational subject matter and multiple click-outs drove readers to click through to the brand page 22.4 percent above the benchmark.
Team One and Lexus approached Nativo to help them reach a new audience: the adventurous, influential and competitive audience of the IS 500 vehicle. Lexus wanted to figure out how to provoke this audience’s desire to influence and how to provide these adventurous risk takers with entertainment that enabled them to flex their competitive spirit. Team One and Lexus were already creating a License to Thrill (LTT) competition video and saw an opportunity for their video content to work harder and smarter.
Nativo worked with Lexus to amplify its video by building out a narrative that organically weaved in IS 500 features and benefits. Nativo took the video content and repurposed it into visually engaging experiences to drive additional scale across its premium publisher network. Ultimately, the campaign achieved 10.2 million total viewable impressions, an average time spent on content that was 90 above the benchmark, and a CTR that was 37 percent above the benchmark.
The above examples demonstrate that the best way to create effective branded content ads is to understand your target audience and what kind of content they naturally seek. By starting with your audience’s needs and then finding the right content format and platforms on which to reach them, you can ensure your branded content ads will hit their mark.
To create a successful branded native ad campaign, you need to start by setting clear goals and choosing the right platforms. You also need to ensure you’re creating high-quality content that is informative, engaging, and relevant to your target audience. Also, be sure to be transparent about the fact that your content is sponsored (if your advertising platform partners don’t do this on your behalf already), and track your results so that you can optimize your campaigns over time.
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Nativo partnered with a tourism board to create tailor-made content aimed at fostering engagement among Black travelers