Native Advertising: The Marketer's Perspective
This article originally appeared as part of Native Advertising: Soap Opera For The Digital Age in the December issue of Publishing Executive.
Marketers are always eager for better tools for reaching and influencing potential customers. Native advertising promises that. However, there is sometimes a misconception that native advertising necessarily means paid-for content that is indistinguishable from editorial content. Some advertisers and publishers may go this route, but most agree this would be a mistake-and not only because it would damage a publisher's brand.
Robert Rose, chief strategist for the Content Marketing Institute, thinks it would be poor execution and run counter to the goal of content marketing, which is to associate the advertiser's brand with the positive feelings an audience has toward a publisher. "The way that native advertising is always presented is that native advertising is invisible to the user so it basically looks and feels and resembles the editorial in such as way that the average consumer wouldn't have any idea they're actually reading content that was sponsored. And I actually think that's the wrong way to think about it."
Instead, marketers should want to make content that is as good or better than the editorial and for the reader to know that it is their content, says Rose. "It's like the talk show guest that steals the show and you're talking about him or her the next day. You go on YouTube to see what Will Ferrell did last night on Jimmy Kimmel. That's the kind of native advertising I want to create. That's why I don't believe it's truly 'native' because I'm not trying to make it blend in, I'm trying to make it stand out."
Historically, marketers have sought out publishers because they want to align their brands with a publisher's credibility. This doesn't change with native, says Rose. "Just understand that the value a publisher is going to bring is the ability to tell the story. In other words, marketers suck right now at being journalists and creating content. They're just not very good at it. And the agencies quite frankly are not that great at it either. They're great at speaking about features and benefits and calls to action-they are not good at telling compelling stories through long-form content. So it's more than [publishers] just offering space, it's offering expertise and the audience that really matters."
Related story: Soap Operas for the Digital Age
Denis Wilson is the content director for Target Marketing, Publishing Executive, and Book Business, as well as the FUSE Media and BRAND United summits. In this role, he analyzes and reports on the fundamental changes affecting the media and marketing industries and aims to serve content-driven businesses with practical and strategic insight. As a writer, Denis’ work has been published by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The New York Times.