Native advertising is advertising delivered in the form of content built around an ad or a brand, and it has grown appreciably in 2014. In fact, JP Morgan predicted that native ads will become the standard ad format on mobile platforms, and will move onto the desktop increasingly. It is expected to be a nearly $3 billion industry by 2015.
In terms of advertising for publishers, the banner ad is seen as intrusive and ineffective, and readers respond more positively to native advertising, with 70% wanting to learn about products through content rather than traditional ads. People are much more likely to view native ads than banner ads, and a good native advertising campaign can deliver very high click-through rates.
Local news providers can benefit from native advertising for publishers for several reasons. Here are just a few of the reasons small publishers should consider native advertising.
Native Advertising Fits Well With Newspapers’ Core Competencies
Creation of native advertising for publishers fits in with the core competencies of news providers, and case studies on native advertising have shown positive results. Developing a sustainable business model around native advertising takes advantage of many skills already in place in the typical newsroom, unlike other new or unorthodox options in advertising for publishers.
Publishers, who built solid walls between editorial and advertising in the past are starting to rethink those silos, but not necessarily tear them down. Readers, after all, want content that’s engaging and useful to them. Native advertising doesn’t mean that the separation between editorial and advertising goes away, but that native advertising content is designated so that the reader understand that what she is reading is sponsored content.
Native Advertising Plays Well With Social Media
Google has made changes to its search algorithms that discourage publishers from engaging in explicit link building campaigns. Native ads can be a way for publishers to create strong content that can help with audience development efforts. For small publishers already engaged in solid SEO practices, launching a native ad program is not that big a stretch. Moreover, the fruits of such a campaign are often the kind of content that people want to share on social media, extending your reach even more.
Native Advertising Can Boost SEO Efforts
Publishing native advertising content can help your site have the flow of fresh, original content that it requires to build and maintain a loyal audience. And it reinforces your branding efforts and helps your site organically gain backlinks as well. When native advertising content is made into promoted social media links, both your site’s traffic and revenues can increase. There’s absolutely no reason why native advertising for publishers can’t be helpful to their SEO strategies.
Native Advertising Can Be Remarkably Successful on its Own
On her Tumblr blog, Nancy Cawley Lane lists several examples of native advertising success stories, and some of them are very impressive indeed. For example, Deseret Digital developed native advertising into a $1 million-plus business, and often have high click-through rates on this content. As of the end of 2013, only 19% of local media executives had developed a native advertising business plan, but 51% planned to use it in 2014, and nearly one-third were considering it, according to Lane.
There is every reason for optimism about native ads and their effects on audiences and publishing brands. It’s still relatively new, and there is still room for improvement. Native advertising has to walk a narrow path, by being engaging enough not disrupt the reader experience, yet maintaining honesty and transparency about the fact that it is sponsored by advertisers. Done with forethought and care, native advertising for publishers has the potential to develop into a strong revenue center.