Agency + Industry / advertising

The Perfect Blend: Content, Data, and Native Advertising

Is anyone else vague on exactly what native advertising is?

I was, until I just attended a forum meeting at the American Association of Advertising Agencies, where Edwin Wong, Senior Director, B2B Insights at Yahoo gave a talk on the subject.

Of course, native advertising is a hot topic in digital media buying because it is generating particularly strong results, and therefore high interest.

But is this just content-related advertising, or what, exactly?

According to Mr. Wong, native advertising is digital print or video advertising defined by three distinguishing characteristics:

  1. It appears neatly within the stream of non-advertising content being viewed;
  2. It has the same general look, tone and style as the content within which it appears (though is identified as “sponsored”);
  3. It is being served to the viewer based on his or her individual areas of interest (as indicated by analytics).

Intuitively, this is a powerful combination – strategically placed, integrated appearance and customized to the viewer.  And though it is not a fundamental part of the definition, native advertising that is also relevant to the surrounding content is doubly powerful.

Amazon got us used to the fact that providers are now drawing on Big Data to serve consumers custom suggestions based on their own habits and preferences.  Native Advertising is essentially an extension of that idea.

So let’s imagine that I am looking at content on sheds for storing garden equipment.  And the provider also has information that shows that I have been looking at riding mowers.

Certainly, a tutorial on riding mower considerations would be a welcome bit of sponsored content for me at that time, as well as the more obvious, overt ad presenting shed options.

If done right, with proper elements of helpfulness and transparency, native advertising can be a powerful contributor not only to an organization’s lead acquisition strategy, but also to its overall brand image.  I think we are all likely to see a lot more of it.

For more examples of native advertising in action, check out this roundup from Mashable.com of four forays into native content that generated excitement.