02 Sep 2014

Stealthy marketing that’s big on sharing

Those who get native advertising right are seeing results, says MRA's Managing Director Mike Rigby. But are you courting controversy if your customers feel they've been tricked into engaging with your content?

Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.

By its very nature, native advertising is hard to spot. But anyone who has ever produced an advertorial will understand how this stealthy form of marketing works. The trick is in making your messaging and visual look and feel like the medium it is in so that it does not appear like advertising but like useful content people actually want. Controversial – maybe; successful – definitely.

David Ogilvy’s famous Guinness Guide to Oysters is an often quoted example of a great advertorial. But nowadays, native advertising takes lots of different forms. Online advertorials (including videos) are now out there, as are promoted tweets and sponsored Facebook posts. But, there’s a bit more to it than simply booking your slot and supplying the copy and design.

The best native advertising creates content that not only helps to sell a product or a brand, but which is relevant, topical and of interest to those reading it. They do this by mirroring the medium they are advertising in. This approach pays dividends for both parties and gives customers a more enjoyable and rewarding brand experience. And, most importantly, it makes them more likely to share it – which of course is the real reward.
Those who are getting it right are seeing results. IPG media lab research claims that ‘native ads are viewed for the same amount of time as editorial content and are much more likely to be shared than a banner ad (32% versus 19% of respondents said they would do so)’.

The lack of clear labelling regulations is seeing a boom in native advertising but how long before customers cotton on? The risk is that any trust you create between them and your brand will be dashed to pieces if they feel they’ve been tricked into engaging with your content. So the jury may still be out on native advertising, but it’s certainly something worth investigating, just in case.

Agree? Disagree? Want help with your advertising? Comment below, tweet me @wehelp_you_grow or @MRAMarketing or email social@mra-marketing.com.

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