The Rise of Native

September 3, 2014

Native advertising, essentially content based ads that are integrated within the editorial feed, have burst onto the scene in recent years and has been embraced by both publishers and advertisers. But why have they grown in popularity? In a constantly evolving advertising landscape with new mediums of communication regularly emerging, the real challenge for brands is to appear more authentic and ‘likeable’ than ever before which is where native formats fit in.

In addition, communicating to the desired consumer has become ever more difficult, especially with the strong transition to mobile channels which have less scope for display advertising – so in steps native advertising.  Well, as John Oliver, a commentator on The Daily Show in the US, put it in his recent rant on the technique “Even if you have never heard the term native advertising before, you have probably been subjected to it by now.” His statement alone hints at the effectiveness of this form of advertising – it is less invasive and direct and therefore consumers are sometimes unaware that they are engaging with an advertisement.

While some may view this as a type of trickery, native advertising is a clever way of promoting a brand and product without appearing as intrusive or direct. However, this is only if it is done correctly…and believe me, there is a fine line between success and failure when it comes to native ads.

Perhaps the most entertaining and effective example of native advertising I’ve come across is an article from the New York Times which, at first glance, appears to be a serious piece of editorial depicting women’s life in prison. However, at a second look, it seemed that the article was actually promoting season two of Netflix’s popular dark comedy ‘Orange is The New Black’. Why was it so effective? Because the reporting was real and the sponsored branding kept to a minimum.  In terms of success, the ad helped the company reach a larger audience beyond the original viewership and led to over 140k shares on social media. 


ny times


Another example a bit closer to home, was 7UP Free’s promotion of its Balloon Street installation on Coppinger Row over the August Bank Holiday weekend. The campaign focused on the concept of being ‘refreshingly original’. The below piece featured on and provided interesting suggestions to those seeking something a little different over the bank holiday. The content is clearly sponsored by 7up yet focuses on entertaining the reader as opposed to simply selling the soft drink – success!


7up balloon street 1

7up balloon street 2

With this in mind, there are a number of fail-safe tips to keep in mind for effectiveness in native advertising. Firstly, transparency is key. Being upfront that it is a sponsored piece of content will win brownie points with the reader in terms of trust.

It is also imperative to note that content is always king! Ensure that the ad is centred on a well written, relevant and entertaining piece of content. It goes without saying, the better the quality of the content, the more likely people are to engage with it.

The relevancy of the content is equally important and it is vital that the native ad features in an environment that is relevant to the target market. This will ensure maximum impact and a higher level of reach.

Finally, no one likes a greedy guts and it’s important not to overuse. If the consumer feels that their news is constantly being infiltrated with sponsorships and hidden advertisements, they will become irritated and lose trust or interest in the brand.




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