Native Advertising Beyond the Hype

This week we participated in an executive roundtable on native advertising including more than a dozen other experts in online marketing and advertising. The roundtable sought to parse through the noise around native advertising and focus in on some of the key issues that will determine how important it will be down the road. Here are the questions and my answers:

“Native advertising” has been a buzzword thrown around a lot in the last couple of months, and its reception has been quite polar. Why all the hype about native advertising?

While there’s been quite a bit of hype about native advertising, I think there’s also recognition that this type of highly integrated placement has been around for decades before digital. What’s exciting about the idea of native advertising in a modern digital context are the possibilities around the level of scale, real-time execution and data intelligence that can only be achieved online. I think there’s also a great deal of interest because promoting content is a key use case for native advertising – and marketers are still trying to figure out how to make their content stand out and how to get it in front of the right people.

What do you believe are the most effective ways to implement native advertising in the short term?

A native advertising program in both the short term and the long term should start with a focus on business results. Whether that business result is along the lines product considerations, conversion or some other recognizable outcome, marketers should work backwards from the end-game to identify the best implementation strategies. That level of thinking helps to get other program components like content, creative, media and metrics aligned with real business goals. For example if your business goal is to drive product consideration for a new mobile device, you’d be thinking about what content would be most useful to that scenario, what media might be most relevant and native creative that would be most likely to engage the right users to learn more about the product.

What type of businesses will benefit the most from effective native advertising campaigns?

Ultimately native advertising has some relevance to all businesses. But it’s clear to us that big brand campaigns are particularly well positioned to benefit from native. The reason for this is that large brand campaigns use large, diverse swaths of media, which in turn provide a valuable exhaust of data. Leveraging that data for optimizing forward campaign work is extremely useful for brands who are seeking to build online relationships with their target customers throughout the purchase path.

How do you see native advertising taking shape and playing a larger role in traditional advertising in the next couple of years?

I see native advertising as a means to an end for delivering brand messages and promoting useful content. Whether native will have staying power with tomorrow’s multimillion dollar media budgets remains to be seen. In order to become part of mainstream media buying it will need to start getting more programmatically oriented, make more effective use of data intelligence and carve out a unique business proposition that drives better outcomes than what you can already achieve with traditional online advertising.

What are your thoughts on some of the questions? Feel free to post a comment below.

Click here to read the full 9,100 word roundtable text graciously compiled by Jon Gregoire with CPC Strategy.

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