By Keith Trivitt | Director, Marketing and Communications
Native ads here, native there, native ads everywhere. That seems to be the prevailing theme of digital marketing nearly halfway through 2013. Native ads — or sponsored stories, or advertorials, or whatever is the trendy buzzword of the day — are all the rage at the moment.
A recent eMarketer report puts some numbers behind all of the hype. According to eMarketer, native ads are providing new ways for marketers to reach target audiences and new avenues of monetization for content sites that are under intense revenue pressure.
But, as we wrote back in February, native ads aren’t without their detractors. Some media and marketing executives are concerned about the potentially negative effects of blurring the lines between content and advertising. Others questions the return on investment of these ads, arguing that native ads cannot scale for multiple placements (we happen to agree on latter).
Despite those concerns, there is no doubt that native advertising has grabbed a significant foothold within the online marketing industry. eMarketer estimates that native ads will generate $4.57 billion in revenue in the U.S. by 2017, up from $1.63 billion in 2012.
So what makes for a great native ad? As my colleague Sultan Riaz wrote last February, a powerful native ad comes down to two crucial factors: a seamless blending with the editorial content and a non-disruptive message that is relevant to the consumer.
Below is an example of native advertising on Twitter.
Notice how HubSpot’s promoted tweet blends seamlessly within a user’s Twitter stream, providing relevant content that is just disruptive enough to make you stop, read the tweet and consider clicking the link. The ad doesn’t overpower the medium or take away from the overall experience. Instead, it blends in within the overall flow of content so as to seem natural within the larger discussion.
Some of the most common types of native ads include Facebook Sponsored Stories, Twitter Promoted Tweets, branded videos and other ads that appear in the content streams of media sites such as Forbes.com and BuzzFeed.
So which native ad type will perform best for your brand?
According to native advertising platform Sharethrough, nearly 50% of media executives it polled find native video ads to be more effective than conventional ads at hitting key performance indicators (KPIs). Slightly more than one-third of respondents said it was too early to tell which were more effective, and the rest said native ads were either equally effective or somewhat less effective than other ad types.
Whether you buy into the hype that native ads are the next generation of online advertising, or think they are an overhyped waste of brand dollars, there is no denying that native advertising has become a powerful force in online marketing.
Have you started to use native ads in your online marketing campaigns? If so, what success have you found?