While some trade publications in some industries are embracing native advertising, others are unsure about it. They do not know if it’s for them, if their readers will accept it, and probably most importantly, how to go about it so that it pays off for the advertiser and proves valuable to the reader.
Native advertising isn’t for everyone, but when it’s done right, it can be valuable for all parties: the advertiser gets their message across, the reader learns about a product or service that can help them, and the publisher has a new revenue stream.
Before digging deeper, we must define native advertising. As discussed here, we are referring to published content – an article – that naturally fits in with the look, feel, and other content in the publication. The only difference is, in subtle and not so subtle ways, the native advertising piece points to the benefits of a specific product or service.
Although it has been resurrected in the past decade as publications look for new ways to generate revenue, this approach is not new. In fact, native advertising dates back as far as the 1900s. However, there were some problems with early forms of native advertising that caused it to falter, among them the following:
- In some cases, there was no disclosure of any kind that the article/content was placed by an advertiser; this got some advertisers and some publications in legal hot water.
- If there was no disclosure, once a reader realized what they read was really an advertisement, they felt duped. This caused them to distrust the advertiser and the publication. Ouch.
- Sometimes there was a disclosure but it was not clear. For instance, initially Forbes used the term “FidelityVoice” to indicate an article was native advertising. But nobody but Forbes knew what FideltyVoice was. When readers figured it out, they were not happy. After clarifying – and apologizing – Forbes changed the name to “BrandVoice” to better indicate an article is sponsored content.
So now we know why native advertising failed in the past. How can advertisers ensure that readers get some quality education with your sponsored content and publications make a few bucks with it along the way?
Here are five suggestions:
- Make sure the publisher properly labels your native advertising. No one benefits if the reader feels duped after reading the content, as mentioned earlier.
- Make sure the information presented is of high quality. The more informative it is, the more the reader will appreciate the information and look into the product or service discussed.
- Typically when preparing an article in a trade publication, the publisher will frown on mentioning a product or company name. Not so with native advertising. The advertiser should feel free to mention their company and any products referenced – as long as it meets the criteria just discussed in suggestion 2.
- Include images. Images catch the reader’s attention and can help them visualize how the product or service works.
- Work with the editor to ensure the sponsored content fits their publication. Effective native advertising has the same look and feel as other articles in the publication.