What Are Native Ads, and Why Every Affiliate Marketer Has To Be Using Them
If you’re an affiliate marketer and living somewhere other than a yurt on the remote steppe (or possibly even then), you’ll be aware of the escalating hype around native advertising. Native ads are being variously touted as the future of advertising, the holy grail of marketing, and a threat to both journalism and the institution of the advertising agency. Sounds pretty interesting, right?
It’s a little surprising, then, to discover that although every industry pundit and media voice has an opinion about it, no consensus exists on a final definition of native advertising. Like the 1960s Supreme Court judge faced with the task of defining hardcore pornography, we can’t say exactly what native ads are, but we know ‘em when we see ‘em. And these days we’re beginning to see ‘em an awful lot.
A Working Definition of Native Advertising
I don’t pretend to be able to succeed where so many wiser souls have failed, but the least I can do is tell you how to recognise when you’re in the presence of native advertising. Essentially, the native ad is a ninja ad: it blends seamlessly into the platform serving it, and doesn’t interrupt the consumer’s relationship with the medium they’re perusing. As you can imagine, this method really enables you to get up close and personal with your target market.
The world is already familiar with native advertising in the form of the advertorial, which is still a staple of print-based marketing. But digital media enables you to take the idea much further and give it your very own creative spin. Typical examples of native ads appearing on the internet range from articles, through infographics and videos, right up to push content delivered via mobile apps. Content discovery services like Outbrain and Taboola are all about native advertising.
Reddit promoted posts, an example of native ads on a closed platform.
Why You Should Be Using Native Ads
The biggest reason to sink your resources into native advertising is because it enables you to build a closer, more natural relationship with your customers. Native ads are seamlessly integrated with content that’s been expressly sought out, so consumer receptiveness to your message is automatically heightened. Statistics tell the same story: the view rate for native ads is 53% greater than for traditional ads, and they’re 32% more shareable.
Native ads have two other huge advantages:
- They’re the best way to bypass ad-blocker software.
- They enable you to surf waves of trending content.
Are There Any Drawbacks to Native Advertising?
If you run the term ‘native advertising’ through the search engine of your choice, you’ll find a whole range of articles declaring that native ads don’t work because consumers are repelled by marketers disguising ads as content. However persuasive this logic sounds, the statistics quoted earlier are compelling evidence to the contrary. But naysayers do flag up an important point: when you design your native ad campaign, it’s vital to make sure your message is in sync with the tone of your chosen platform. Otherwise it may indeed be more of an irritant than a bonus.
How You Can Successfully Go Native
- Discover where your target market likes to hang out online. It’s all very well saying you’ll advertise on the most popular platforms out there, but if those are men’s magazines and you’re marketing women’s sanitary protection, you might not get many takers.
- Decide whether your campaign goals are best suited to open platforms like Outbrain and Taboola, or closed platforms like Facebook and Reddit. Closed platforms offer greater potential for delivering a highly targeted message.
- Craft a campaign that meets a need or gives something to your potential customers, even if that’s just a laugh or an interesting read. Don’t forget to take advantage of trending content.
- Measure your outcomes and adjust your plan accordingly.
As I hope I’ve demonstrated, native ads have the potential to take affiliate marketing to a higher level, one previously available only to the brands with the biggest budgets. Native ads bypass psychological and software barriers to traditional advertising and, if you’ve judged your campaign correctly, they also give something positive to your potential customers, putting them in the right frame of mind to reciprocate. But don’t forget that good judgement is crucial to your success with native ads: pick the right message for the right platform and you maximise your chances of success.
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