If Social Media Flunks Your Brand, Try Native Advertising

Opinion: Native ads are almost everywhere, but an average consumer is unlikely to see them. Why? Because they are just that good

Social media marketing is full of impressive stats. Brands that use it well have experienced record returns on investment. Marketers are always “planning to spend more on social media” the following year. And it ends up paying off for the majority of them. However, other brands just don’t see the same results.

Some studies have revealed that 46 percent of brands are not sure that they feel the impact of their social media efforts. To put it simply, social media just doesn’t seem to work for these brands. And the sad reality is that there are a lot of businesses in this category.

Are they all wrong? Or is there something they’re not doing right? Granted, in a study reported by TrustRadius, 40 percent of respondents cited dedicating enough resources to social media marketing as one of the top three challenges, while others mentioned lack of time.

What could they do to turn this around? Could taking an alternative approach help such brands see greater results?

Enter native advertising

70 percent of consumers say they’d rather learn about products through content than traditional advertising. This sounds like people asking for native advertising without even knowing what it is.

Content is king and, although disguised, native advertising does stick to that rule. Unlike social media ads, native ads have a share factor that makes this kind of advertising less expensive than social media.

Why does it work? Is it any better than social media advertising?

According to AdNow business development director Vladimir Bashkin:

As more brands become publishers and white-label content producers, native advertising will take a granular approach to reaching audience, making it possible to touch aspects social media advertising could not.

It doesn’t hinder the browsing experience

The uniqueness of native advertising runs in the fact that it offers benefits on both sides. Consumers get to naturally enjoy high-value content, and advertisers have a chance to target and engage with their most likely buyers.

According to HubShout, 85 percent of internet users don’t feel that their browsing experience is hindered by native ads. On the other hand, 85 percent of Americans feel that ads on social media, news aggregators and applications are annoying. One-third would rather see a dentist than see those ads.

Yes, it’s that bad. And social media leads this pack of annoying ad places, according to 36 percent of the respondents.

Graeme Donnelly, founder of professional business profile company Quality Formations, said:

Native advertising has been so well accepted by internet users because it feels natural to the readers. Compared with traditional banners and pop-up ads, native ads are much less disruptive and they don’t give the feeling that the page is cluttered.

Knowing this, businesses can tailor their ads to their target audiences and capitalize on making them as natural as possible to increase click-through-rates. The same HubShout survey revealed that 67 percent of users are more likely to click on sponsored articles than banner ads.

Content is relevant to the user

About 96 percent of marketers agree that ads should be relevant to the context of the surrounding editorial content.

The success of native advertising hinges on the ability to target a specific audience and tailor the content appropriately. Users are generally more likely to engage with content that’s relevant to them at that moment.

ShareThrough published a report showing that native ads are 53 percent more frequently looked at by consumers than display ads. 32 percent of the respondents even went ahead to say that they would share these ads with friends and family, while only 19 percent would share traditional ads.

As a marketer, this means that you could start spending more time and money advertising to an audience that really cares and nurturing quality leads instead of shooting in the dark with every banner ad you create.

They won’t even know you’re advertising

Native ads are almost everywhere, but an average consumer is unlikely to see them. Why? Because they are just that good.

Up to 49 percent of consumers say they have never even heard of native ads, with 73 percent ranging from no knowledge at all to being hardly familiar with the ads. Only 3 percent of consumers consider themselves “very knowledgeable” on that topic. This means that very few people view the content as advertising, making it more powerful and valuable.

Native advertising works

There are many convincing statistics on how important marketers and consumers think native advertising is. But is it enough to make you want to relocate your social media spend to native ads? Let’s find out:

  • Through a native advertising campaign, Beeby Clark+Meyler helped GE get 416,000 click-throughs. This is a whopping 8 percent CTR. Display ads yield an average CTR of 0.19 percent.
  • In 2014, BuzzFeed’s native ad campaign for Intel produced more than 12,400 social shares.
  • Viewers spend almost as much time on native ads (one second) as they do on editorial content (1.2 seconds).
  • Native advertising has been shown to increase brand lift by 82 percent.
  • If native ads include rich media, conversion rates could go up to 60 percent.
  • Of the publishers that included native ads in their content, 71 percent received no major complaints, while the remaining 29 percent received a minor backlash, at most.

The high output reflected in the above statistics could be a result of budgets. However, despite your budget, you can make native advertising work for you.

Even social media channels are adopting it

Social media channels have also embraced native advertising. Case in point: Facebook and Twitter have, through feed-based advertising, demonstrated one of the finest forms of native advertising. The two have managed to use their platforms to serve a high-quality user experience while proactively advertising on those platforms.

Would it then be too wild to imagine native advertising as the force that will awaken business advertising?

James Jorner is a content strategist and marketer at Effective Inbound Marketing. His company specializes in online branding and digital marketing for businesses.

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