How Content Marketers Can Best Leverage Native Ads

Use native ads to amplify your message and engage audiences.

When Bank of America wanted to get the word out about its mission of responsible growth, the company partnered with online publisher Quartz to create custom native advertisements, which included a map about global competitiveness to coincide with the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The native ad is credited with driving more than 1,500 organic social shares and comments while contributing to a timely discussion associated with the Davos forum.

“Marketing leaders responsible for content marketing can use native advertising to amplify their messages and use storytelling techniques to engage audiences,” says Anna Maria Virzi, Senior Research Analyst, Gartner for Marketers.

Native advertising involves creating and paying for the placement of content that bears a similarity to the news, feature articles, product reviews, entertainment and other material that surrounds it online. Marketers are beginning to use native advertising to extend the reach of their content and increase the efficiency of their programs. The most common types of native ads relevant to content marketers are in-feed ads found on social sites or on a publisher’s content feed and custom formats and placements.

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Content marketers should stay abreast of evolving native advertising standards and look for opportunities to work with the media team by creating content that can be reused in native ad campaigns.

How to approach native advertising

Approach collaborations between content marketing and native advertising by being relevant, journey-minded and transparent.

Be relevant
Marketers need a better understanding of target audiences to create relevant content.

Content marketers traditionally don’t have access to granular demographic, psychographic, interest or demand data about audiences. However, as advertisers they can access these audience insights. Content marketers can better understand the unique characteristics of a publisher’s audience by obtaining this new level of insights through the advertising relationship.

Be journey-minded
Content marketers need to understand not just the customer’s buying journey but also the customer’s motivations, needs and goals, and the relationship with the brand, from presale to postsale.

Work with the broader marketing and sales teams and internal subject matter experts to develop customer personas and determine relevant journey touchpoints. Develop a consistent narrative arc of brand storytelling throughout the customer journey and determine what native placements meet your audience’s needs.

Be transparent
Don’t worry about disclosures such as “Ad” or “Promoted Post” repelling consumers.

These disclosures are essential and distinguish paid content from a publisher’s content, and they reduce the likelihood that people feel deceived or frustrated. Also, watch for signs that ad-blocking technology is impacting native ad campaigns. One pair of researchers developed a tool that detects native ads in Facebook and covers them from a user’s view, demonstrating that native ads are not immune to ad blocking.

“Use native advertising to amplify content marketing by collaborating with publishers and understanding their audiences,” says Virzi.

Gartner for Marketers clients can read more in “How Native Advertising and Content Marketing Can Work Together” by Anna Maria Virzi.

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