There's good news for marketers when it comes to consumer acceptance of contextual advertising. Consumers have come to terms with these ads... but only if the content is relevant, authoritative, and trustworthy.
According to a study Edelman/Berland, Getting In-Feed Sponsored Content Right: the Consumer View:
- 86% of consumers feel that online advertising is necessary to receive free content online.
- 60% of consumers are more open to in-line ads that tell a story than ones that simply sell a product.
- Relevancy (90%) is the top factor in sparking interest in in-feed sponsored content, it is the top factor in the ultimate success of this type of native advertising.
Online entertainment company Netflix has embraced the concept of native ads in a big way with a series of campaigns that has presented different content applicable to targeted audiences in varied media. It ran a contextual native ad campaign which discussed the popular TV show, "Orange is the New Black" on the New York Times website. Based on the positive results of the New York Times campaign the company decided to ramp up on native ads with an initiative on Wired which discussed TV viewing habits over the years. Netflix is using the articles to reach digital audiences looking for good storytelling--and then reinforce the message of a subscription-based entertainment service.
Both campaigns had the intended result--shares that helped the company reach an even larger audience beyond the original viewership. And while there is some discussion over which outlet ultimately netted the bigger catch, both avenues together resulted in approximately 140,000 shares. But that is not the whole story, because the posts were also viewable on social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter. The average time spent on the ads topped a desirable 3 minutes.
5 Takeaways to Boost the Effectiveness of Native Advertising
- Be Transparent; Own up to owning the sponsored content. There is a fine line between the "advertorial nature" of native ads and actual in-your-face in-line ads. But customers are just beginning to understand the concept of native advertising so to earn viewer trust, brands need to be upfront that the content being published, while relevant, is advertising with a message.
- Fit In; Understand the look, feel, and format of the media you are using, so that your native ad fits what viewers expect to find on the site. As mentioned earlier, being disruptive rather than informative is a sure fire way to ensure that your native ads won't work.
- Keep VoC Front and Center; As in all marketing listening and understanding what customers want from you is key to delivering content that will be accepted and embraced. Fill a need with your native ads or be entertaining in a manner that fits the personality of your key customer.
- Be a Good Storyteller; You want your native ad to go viral, so present a good story that viewers will want to share.
- Be You; consistency across all media is key. When you are not true to your core brand message (no matter where or how it is presented) it is confusing to consumers who know you for who you are. If you are going to go in a new direction then be upfront about it so readers can go with you.
Ernan Roman is president of ERDM.
ERDM conducts Voice of Customer (VoC) research to identify high impact Customer Experience strategies.
Inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame due to results clients achieve with ERDM's VoC research driven strategies.
Clients include IBM, MassMutual, Microsoft, NortonAntivirus, QVC and NBC.
Roman is the author of Voice of the Customer Marketing and of the Huffington Post published blog, Ernan's Insights on Marketing Best Practices.
Named by the Online Marketing Institute as one of the "2014 Top 40 Digital Luminaries" and by Crain's BtoB Magazine as one of the "100 most influential people in Business Marketing".