According to a report on Shopify, global retail ecommerce sales are projected to grow to $3.4 trillion (U.S.) by 2019. This is a huge surge compared to 2015's figure of $1.548 trillion. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of internet marketers seem to be taking advantage. And many are smart enough to be employing something called native advertising.
Related: Native Advertising, a Boon for the Media, Can Help You Cut Through the Noise
Native advertising is any paid content that is made to match the form of the platform it appears on without being disruptive. This may mean promoted tweets on Twitter, suggested posts on Facebook and editorial-based content. It can be presented in the form of a video, an image or an article. And no, it is not the same as content marketing.
How's that? Content marketing involves finding a way to place the product being promoted within the content provided. In contrast to native advertising, this is relatively obvious.
Native advertising is less obvious. It is not even that focused on product promotion. Instead, it usually comes across as sponsored posts on social media platforms and other sites, as promoted tweets, feature videos on Youtube, suggested reading/viewing and more. Native advertising is designed to blend seamlessly into the style and structure of the content of the page and the website on which it is displayed.
In the words of Vladmir Bashkin, business development director of Adnow, a fast-growing native advertising and content-discovery platform, “Native advertising is the ninja of digital marketing: quiet yet visible, subtle yet effective. And you know that ninjas kick ass; so does native marketing”.
This statement encapsulates the reasons I believe all smart internet marketers should leverage native advertising for their marketing campaigns. Those reasons:
1. It does not disrupt the browsing experience. We have all experienced banner ads or, more annoyingly, popup ads when we browse. Those forms of digital advertisement are intrusive — hence, their relatively low click-through and conversion rates.
Unlike these forms of digital marketing, native advertising feels so natural that there is much less of an abrupt transition from the natural web page content to advertisement. Personally speaking, I don't find that they disrupt my browsing experience. In fact, I find the links to the suggested content at the end of the article to be complementary and helpful.
2. It promotes brand awareness in a way nothing else can. Have you ever come across shows on network TV sponsored by established brands? Or maybe you saw the article posted by Dell on the New York Times website on January 8, 2014. It didn't promote Dell’s products directly. It just presented beautiful and informative content — by Dell. These are examples of sponsored and branded content, respectively.
Related: 4 Reasons Your Company Should Use Native Advertising
Efforts to build brand awareness can also occur in the form of a single sponsored magazine issue, in the way that Target bought all the ad space on the August 22, 2005, issue of The New Yorker.
Then there is the method of strategic product placement. Ever watched American Idol? If you have, you have surely noticed the Coca-Cola cups held by the judges on the show.
There are many more methods of native advertising, but this is one way to make your brand go viral, in a positive way.
3. It can bypass security measures meant to keep ads at bay. Native advertising does this for one major reason; at face value, it is not an ad. You do not need an ad space on a website to put up native advertisements. Native ads, instead, comply with the editorial structure and standards of the publisher (online or offline) on whose site they are placed. They are part of the content on site pages on which they appear, so they do not appear as ads; they appear as content.
In addition, anyone can install ad-locking software on their computer, tablet or mobile phone, which will deal comfortably with banner and pop-up ads. But native ads will always slip through. That means that native advertising has a higher potential to reach a much greater number of people.
5. Statistics favor native advertising. Business Insider reports that native ads budget hit a height of $4.7 billion in 2013 and are projected to climb to $21 billion in 2018 as more online marketers discover its benefits. It was reported to perform much better than traditional display, especially on mobile where it has more than 1 percent of CTR.
According to emarketer, native advertising is already offered by 73 percent of online publishers, with another 17 percent planning to take the same path. In addition, 32 percent of consumers are open to sharing a native ad with friends, family and colleagues while only 19 percent of consumers will share traditional banner ads. Note that these are stats from as far back as 2015.
Related: 5 Reasons Why Your Business Shouldn't Ignore Native Advertising
That's why, in 2017, it's evident that the world is moving the way of native ads, and you should too if you want an optimal yield from your marketing strategies.