Native advertising is one of the more popular marketing terms today. The concept behind native advertising isn’t anything new. According to Digiday, advertorial content has been around since the late 19th century.
But the continued rise of social platforms, digital distribution of content, video networks, and generally all digital media has made the idea popular once again. In fact, eMarketer reported that native spending on social media alone would increase to $5 Billion in 2017, while closing the gap on display spending.
This is all well and good, so let’s talk about some different forms of native advertising. More importantly, let’s look at some of the more effective ways that B2B companies can use native advertising.
What is native advertising?
Here is the Wikipedia definition: “Native advertising is a type of advertising, usually online but feasibly elsewhere, that matches the form and function of the platform upon which it appears.”
But here’s another way to look at it. Native advertising is a type of advertising that attempts to trick a consumer, hoping the consumer consumes the advertisement without realizing it is an advertisement.
That was too harsh. How about this one? Native advertising is a type of advertising that, if done well, people don’t realize is an advertisement. The key phrase being, if done well.
Why You Should Consider Native Ads for B2B
Native advertising provides an alternative to running display ads, the bane of the internet. Over time, people have trained themselves to completely ignore display ads. According to Smart Insights, average click through rate on display ads is 0.06%. That number can’t go much lower. Native advertisements intend to increase viewership and engagement from readers by either fitting into the experience of the platform or actually adding value to it. And usually, it works. According to sharethrough.com, 25% more viewers were measured to look at in-feed ad placements more than standard banners, and native ads registered 18% higher lift in purchase intent than banner ads.
B2B Companies Need to Engage
For B2B advertisers, there are some real benefits. Many B2B buying decisions are not made spur of the moment. Due to this, banner ads are typically ineffective. Native ad placements give these businesses a chance to engage with their prospects by adding value through conversation. Here are a few examples of effective native advertisements from B2B companies.
Sponsored Content on Industry Publications
Written content is a popular format among B2B companies. In the below example, the advertiser (disclosure: I work with the advertiser, Cincom) buys the top spot on an outgoing newsletter. This advertiser promotes valuable content to the audience, while attempting to resemble the format of the organic content in the newsletter. The advertiser is essentially saying you typically click on one of the news stories below, but maybe this article would interest you instead. As you can see, the purpose behind this ad is very different than a highly branded, product focused display ad.
In-feed Ads on LinkedIn
Social media feeds are popular outlets for native advertisements. LinkedIn is a go-to network for many B2B advertisers. In the example below, HubSpot sponsors content right on the LinkedIn timeline. This sponsored post is just like an organic post, but they have paid to expand the reach beyond their followers. This increases the chances that prospects will read and engage. Also, HubSpot attempts social media lead generation with an article on social media lead generation.
Sponsored Listings on Aggregator Sites
Here’s one more example of a sponsored listing. A sponsored listing is similar in theory to a paid search ad. The example below shows an aggregator site that offers sponsored listings. Vendors interested in advertising bid their way to the top of the category. In this format, site visitors search the aggregator site for a product type, such as CRM Software. The aggregator site is fulfilling the needs of their visitors by offering many options for CRM software, while listed results are a mix of paid and organic. Many visitors may not even notice a difference between the sponsored listings at the top and the organic listings that fall underneath.
Create a Positive Feeling
All of these formats, and many others, can be effective techniques to add to your arsenal. Well done native advertisements create a positive feeling in your prospects. A feeling that you are trying to help them or give them value, instead of asking them to buy things all the time (I’m looking at you retargeting ads). In most cases, you should already be testing out some native advertising formats, and replacing some of your outdated methods. Advertising to prospects in ways that they appreciate is just good advertising. And the world will be a better place when a few native ads on a page is the norm, rather than pop-ups and takeover ads.