If your company has budgeted for digital advertising, you may already have explored native marketing. This cousin to content marketing is one of the top trends in digital marketing for 2017. Because technology is constantly morphing and because people tend to become “immune” to traditional advertising over time, native marketing may help you in reaching your target consumer base and in increasing awareness and loyalty to your brand.
What is Native Marketing? This is marketing based in content that looks like a regular website, but is created and paid for by advertisers instead of artists and writers. In a manner of speaking, these are online informercials. They may tell stories or give information but, without a doubt, they are effective marketing tools.
Native marketing has some real advantages over traditional advertising. One is that it is more successful at reaching your target audience. This is because the reader is already searching or reading content related to the product. The marketing may appear as another correlated story with the headline “sponsored” or “promoted” content. It may also be a widget embedded in the article itself that sends readers to another page. Regardless, the advertising taps into the consumer segment that is already interested in the product area or type. That makes native marketing more cost effective than shotgun marketing campaigns. In addition, readers have become so accustomed to banner ads or other traditional methods of advertising that they may become “ad-blind.” Ad tracking has suggested that consumers are more conscious of the native marketing content and that improves brand recognition. People who recommend the content to a friend are also “recommending” the brand. Plus, the content, although its primary purpose is marketing, might also provide a valuable service in education. It may be fun to read or, as in the case of promoted videos, to watch. A glimpse of the innovation and creativity at the iCrossing Facebook page, for instance, shows how an agency with a sense of fun and engagement can create content for native marketing that pulls consumers into the content. This is something that iCrossing excels at.
Of course, the ads demand skill in execution because there are some potential pitfalls in using the platform. The technique is undeniably devious and once the consumer realizes he has been “tricked,” he may pull back from the brand. That is why creating content with some take-away value such as entertainment or education is important. That deceptive aspect also causes some concern among advertisers who see the method as crossing the line of advertising ethics. Another problem with native marketing is that it may be seen by search engines such as Google or Bing as spam or recognized as advertising. If that happens, the ranking of the website will fall in its standing in the search pages.
Ever since the Hallmark Hall of Fame program that promoted Hallmark’s greeting cards, advertisers have recognized the effectiveness of linking a product to content. The effectiveness of the advertising depends both upon the quality of the content and in the manner of transition to the marketing content. If a consumer is moved from the actual content to the marketing portion seamlessly, his perception of the promoted product will likely be positive. Marketing agencies that are looking to the future are focusing on the trend in native marketing as a way to reach consumers who have grown bored and unresponsive to more traditional methods.