Navigating Native Advertising: How to Get it Right
Recently the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Edelman Berland conducted a study (Getting In-Feed Sponsored Content Right: The Consumer View) to understand how consumers perceive and feel about in-feed sponsored content on news related desktop sites. Focus groups with news site consumers in New York City and Washington D.C. informed the official nationwide user study. Participants were presented with real world in-feed sponsored content, which was ranked as the most appealing and least intrusive form of native advertising, on three categories of desktop news sites: general news, business news, and entertainment news. The results provide a glimpse into the how consumers perceive native advertising.
Findings from this study show that overall in-feed sponsored content engagement is higher on entertainment and business oriented sites, rather than general news sites. General news readers are also significantly more skeptical of how sponsored content adds value to their experience, compared to business and entertainment news readers. Overall the general news readers, which skewed just slightly older than the other two groups, consistently saw in-feed sponsored content as less likely to result in positive brand uplift for the brand or the publisher.
In addition, conclusions drawn from the study reveal a consensus among the groups that sponsored content must be relevant, authoritative, and trustworthy in order to work best for all parties involved - the brand, the agency, the publisher, and the reader. Brands and publishers also seem to have a mutually beneficial relationship with regard to in-feed sponsored content if they are both perceived as credible. This kind of native advertising seems to be most effective for established brands trying to build up and differentiate their image, deepen existing customer relationships, and to launch brand extensions, while being least effective for trying to generate new brand awareness.
Based on the results of this study the IAB and Edelman Berland have formulated several take-away recommendations for brands and agencies, and publishers. Brands and their agencies are encouraged to have a “win-win or no deal” Stephen R. Covey mentality while embracing storytelling and curbing the urge to sell. They should also begin leveraging their authority and credibility when negotiating with publishers, and publishers should encourage aligned brand marketers to work together in a more authoritative manner . Publishers are also spurred to control the experience and be prepared to turn away from advertisers who are non-relevant and untrustworthy, as well as, being transparent and providing superior disclosures.
The findings of this study probably don’t seem shocking or entirely novel, but they do solidify a true foundation for what we already seemed to know from our own digital consumption habits. The question is how to leverage this knowledge as a marketer and a seller.
Any good marketer should already be hyperconscious of their brand, its image, and any and all relevant data regarding its customers. Simply pouring the budget into native because it’s ‘in’ won’t really get you anywhere. Ensuring your brand has a story to tell is the surest way to success. Crafting these stories in a format suitable to the consumer demographic will make them effective. Finally, only high quality pieces of branded content should be used to advertise on relevant websites to further the brand’s image. There is no one-size fits all advertising strategy for any brand, especially when it comes to native advertising.
As a seller, the key piece of information to keep in mind is your audience. Making sure you only reach out to reliable, relevant advertisers and only offering current advertisers with an appropriate, fitting target audience the opportunity to create sponsored content, will help guarantee that the site’s reputation remains in superior standing. Becoming truly discerning with regards to whom you sell native advertising spots to will help further enhance the success of your relationship.
What subject would you be most interested in seeing a study conducted on?