Native Advertising: What It Is And What It Looks Like

Native Advertising Examples

Native advertising remains a confusing term for many marketers, making it more of a buzzword than an actual marketing tactic. According to Copyblogger, 49 percent of brands and advertisers don’t know or understand what native advertising is.

But as this marketing trend picks up momentum, you should be in the loop on how it works and what it may mean for the future of advertising. We’re here to help clear the air, and to start, we’ll define the term, show you examples of seamless native advertising and explain why each example works.

Defining native advertising

Native advertising is a marketing practice that uses content to attract new customers without disrupting their reading or viewing experience. It can take on many forms, but it should fit into a publication’s existing content library flawlessly.

“The purpose is to avoid disrupting the user experience and to achieve high user engagement rates,” Steve Wick, founder of MobSoc Media, explains.

In other words, the content feels natural. From a promoted tweet or sponsored Facebook post, to an advertorial that looks and feels like a newspaper article, there are many options.

According to IPG Media Lab, native ads are viewed for about the same amount of time as editorial content. Plus, 32 percent of online consumers say they are likely to share native ads, compared to 19 percent who claim to share banner ads.

That’s the big difference between native advertising and other ad methods like banners or sponsored content. It’s written with the intent to be shared, and as a result, has a better chance of going viral.

On the other hand, the biggest danger of native advertising is improperly branded content, which can mislead consumers and needs to be avoided at all costs. However, with proper the proper indications and branding in place, that shouldn’t be a problem

Now that we have native advertising defined, let’s take a look at some examples. 

Forbes, ‘Should You Accept Your Employer’s Pension Buyout Offer?’

Take a look at this example written by Fidelity and published on the Forbes site. It’s a topic that Forbes readers would be interested in reading and it goes into great detail about the pros and cons of taking a buyout. Forbes Native Advertising

This is a great example of native advertising for several reasons. For starters, it’s clear that this article is sponsored by Fidelity and is branded as such. They’re not deceiving readers, even though the formatting matches that of a regular Forbes piece. Second, the article is valuable. It’s full of useful information for anyone in that employment situation. Third, it looks and feels like something that belongs on the Forbes site, and the quality doesn’t suffer just because it’s ad copy.

Overall, it’s seamless. It doesn’t stand out like a blinking banner ad on the side of the screen, or pop up over the page you’re viewing. It’s content that readers can use even though it’s a form of advertising.

Dogfancast, ‘Is Your Dog Walking You?’

This example is published on Dogfancast, a site that offers all sorts of dog-related news. It looks and feels like a blog post, or an article that you’d typically find on the site, but its intent is to sell a certain kind of dog leash made by Dogg Boss Gear, their featured partner.Dogfancast Native Advertising

While this example feels a bit more salesy than the Forbes article, it fits the publication and solves a problem that many dog owners have. This particular post is image-heavy too, which adds to an overall positive viewing experience. We all know that many readers aren’t likely to read the article from start to finish, so adding a few pictures to break up the content works in this example.

“This example is an engaging, custom article about the brand and it matches the consumer interest,” Wick explains. “It doesn’t disrupt the viewer. It feels natural.”

The Onion, ‘Uninstall’ Video

The Onion, known for its satirical news-like content, showcases a great example of native advertising in collaboration with Microsoft. Remember, native advertising can come in many forms.

As with all of our examples, this video fits within the users’ experience. Onion readers want to be entertained and expect humor. Since this video that makes fun of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and promotes the new version at the same time, is a good fit for this publication and a great example of native advertising.

Plus, it’s shareable. Think of all the funny cat pictures that get shared. If it’s funny, it will spread. That’s another benefit of native advertising.

Has your brand used native advertising? How has it worked for you? Share your thoughts, or an example, in the comment section below.

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About Lisa Furgison

Lisa Furgison is a freelance journalist and co-owner of a media company, McEwen's Media. Find her on Twitter @lfurgison.