What Is Native Advertising? And Is It Really a New Idea?

It’s the latest buzzword coming out of every news outlet imaginable, but what does native advertising actually mean? We found a great video to tell some of the story, and we added our two cents.

Mashable held a summit in March and conducted a discussion with the VP of Brand Strategy at StumbleUpon about Native Advertising. It’s been talked about a lot for the past six months, with very little clarity as to its standards as well as how it’s measured.

Native Advertising Defined

You’ll hear a wide variety of definitions for Native Advertising and an even greater number of native advertising examples. Confusion runs rampant.

One view is to describe native advertising as the hosting of content on a third-party platform in a way that is consistent with the hosting site’s content so the reader does not feel the advertisement is invasive or disruptive to their browsing session. Simple examples of native advertising are the sponsored tweets that show up in your Twitter feed, or the “Pages You Might Like” on your Facebook timeline. More extensive native advertising campaigns adopt visually stimulating graphics and relevant content that is cohesive with the brand guidelines of the host site, like Campbell’s  “Go” soups feed on Buzzfeed

Cambell's Go Campaign.

But doesn’t this have the ring of tried-and-true content marketing? It’s a question a lot of people experienced in the field have asked, as they try to figure out how it’s different. As seen through the interview clip, native advertising positions itself as an iteration of content marketing, centered around the web. More and more, advertising is shifting away from pop-up ads and side-bar ads, as readers can become attuned to what is relevant content for them and what is simply promotional. Making content more natural and aligned in design and placement truly creates a symbiosis with the hosting site; the final result is that the reader pays attention to the content you’ve worked hard to place.

Measuring Native Advertising

It’s an exciting development, as measurement can be tracked with a variety of different tools: click-through rates, conversation shares, social media “likes” and followers, et cetera. However, there are challenges to native advertising. Perhaps most important is the additional work put into content marketing as each piece has to be tailored to the specific host site. Additionally, it’s no easy task to make sure your brand maintains its identity and consistency, while delivering content that works to match a hosting site’s characteristics. In all, creativity, time and patience is key with native advertising. It takes dedication and work to produce highly valued content, and this new method will require it in spades.

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