While most trade publications in most industries are now embracing native advertising – also known as sponsored content or branded content – others are unsure about it. They do not know if it’s for them, if their readers will accept it, and what might be most important, how to go about it so that it pays off for the advertiser, the publisher, and proves valuable to the reader.
Native advertising isn’t for everyone, but when it’s done right, it can be worthwhile for all parties:
- The advertiser gets their message across exactly as they want it
- The reader learns about a product or service that can help them
- The publisher has a new revenue stream, something most all trade publications are looking for now
- The message can be sent out far and wide using social media strategies
But before digging deeper, we must define native advertising, at least the way we are using here.
Published content – an article, a blog post, possibly a video or even an infographic – that naturally fits in with the look, feel, and other content in the publication. The only difference is, it must be identified as advertising or sponsored content, and in subtle and maybe not so subtle ways, the native advertising piece points very directly to the features and 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 it will work in the future and that readers get some quality education and value from your sponsored?
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. This helps add credibility to what is being discussed. Further, the more informative the content 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 is not overly promotional and 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. As we mentioned, effective native advertising has the same look and feel as other articles in the publication.
Here’s a video on branded articles that might interest you.
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