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Native Advertising: Is It the Right Addition to Your Content Marketing Plan?

Although native advertising can be very effective in improving brand presence and generating leads, it does have several drawbacks. Understanding both the pros and cons of this type of paid media can help you decide if you should add it to your marketing strategy.

What Is Native Advertising?

Native advertising is defined by Wikipedia as “a form of online advertising that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears. For example, an article written by an advertiser to promote their product, but using the same form as an article written by the editorial staff.”  The Interactive Advertising Bureau has identified six types of native advertising:

  • In-feed Units: Promotions and sponsored content that looks just like the other articles on the site.
  • Recommendation Units: Ads that appear depending on the type of information that a user is viewing, frequently directing users to similar content.
  • Paid Search Units: Ads that appear along with search engine results.
  • In-ad with Native Element Units: Banner ads containing native content.
  • Promoted Listings: Ads for products based on browsing and search history on a particular site.
  • Custom: Any type of native advertising that doesn’t fit into one of the other five categories.

Pros of Native Advertising

Native advertising offers several benefits that can make it a cost effective choice:

  • Narrowly target your audience by providing relevant content. If you want to attract people who enjoy backpacking, an article about the most difficult trails in the Midwest can provide information that they can use.
  • Reduce your advertising costs. Targeting your audience means you don’t waste resources posting ads that will never generate a significant return on investment. The lower cost of native advertising make it accessible to small businesses.
  • Produce content that integrates with the look of a particular website. Traditional ads tend to stop readers when they encounter them, but readers are more likely to continue reading an article or post that looks more like their favorite content.

Cons of Native Advertising

Carefully consider the drawbacks before investing in a native advertising campaign:

  • Native advertising might annoy your potential clients. A 2014 survey by Contently discovered that two-thirds of readers felt deceived when they realized that a video or article was sponsored, and this could lead to a negative image of your company.
  • Users may avoid a site that contains too many native ads. If that happens, the money you spent on advertising will be wasted.
  • You might receive negative comments. If potential clients really object to native advertising, they’ll share those feelings on social media, including your own Facebook or Twitter pages. A few comments might not hurt you, but if too many customers join in, the backlash could negatively affect your brand.

Native advertising can extend your marketing reach without breaking your budget. Before you decide to add it to your marketing plan, be sure you understand what it can and can’t do for your company.