Lessons from 3 Great Native Ads

Nov 21, 2014

Article ImageNative advertising is having its big moment. When done right, it has tremendous pull with consumers. According to Nielsen, native ads produce as much as an 82% in brand lift. An infographic from MDG Advertising says 70% of individuals reported that they would prefer "to learn about products through content rather than through traditional advertising."

It's clear that consumers want great content, not canned messages. If brands can reach their target niche, they can enjoy increased awareness, sales, and loyalty. Let's take a look at three companies that have pulled off excellent native advertising campaigns, as well as how you can emulate their success.

Netflix and The New York Times: Provide readers with interesting and new information

A native ad cannot contain recycled content. It should be new, fresh, thought provoking, and above all, valuable to the reader. To promote the second season of Orange is the New Black, Netflix sponsored a native ad in The New York Times' this past June. The post, titled "Women Inmates: Why the Male Model Doesn't Work," included a well-reported article written by a Times staffer, along with videos showing testimonials from women who were once incarcerated.

The topic of imprisoned women doesn't show up frequently in the news, so Netflix seized the opportunity to fill a hole. The article provided eye-opening statistics, such as the fact that 75% percent or more of female inmates suffered through sexual or physical abuse, and that over the last 30 years, "the number of women serving time in American prisons has increased more than eightfold."
People go to publishers like The Times to learn something new. A native ad that teaches and informs is going to be effective. Don't repost information that's already available online. Do the reporting and offer something fresh.

Allstate and The Atlantic: Adhere to the publishers' standards

When people log on to a publishers' website, they expect to see consistency across the content. If content is not up to the editorial standard, it's going to stick out.

In a sponsored post on millennials' work habits, Allstate provided original reporting and a handy infographic to illustrate its points. The writing was on par with The Atlantic's other content.

The first paragraph hooked readers like any good piece of journalism should. It read, "It takes a certain blend of optimism and paranoia to sleep with your phone within arm's reach. Something might happen-and I might miss it!" Though the story wasn't in the traditional inverted pyramid style of journalism, it supplied fascinating facts throughout that moved it along nicely.

Brands need to take a page out of the Allstate playbook and hire content creators who know how to tell a good story. Otherwise, companies run the risk of compromising customer trust. 

Hanes and BuzzFeed: Match the tone of the publication

Before you create content-native ads or otherwise-you need to get to know your audience. Your audience needs to feel as if you know exactly whom they are and are trying to give them content they will appreciate, or else they won't connect with your brand.

Hanes did exactly that. BuzzFeed, a site known for its native ads, recently teamed up with the underwear company for a sponsored post called "10 Of The Worst Moments In Any Interview." In a series of chuckle-worthy animated gifs and one-liners, the post highlighted what does and can go wrong in interviews.

The post was easily relatable to the BuzzFeed demographic, which is mostly made up of 18 to 34-year olds. People in this age group are often taking important job interviews for the first time and experiencing the stress that goes along with it. When illustrated with a funny gif of a gasping cat and a one-liner, it can help the audience feel better about their own interview mishaps. They know they aren't alone in their career-related struggles.

When readers feel that content is applicable to their lives, they'll be more likely to share it with their peers. Then paid media transforms into earned media, which is the goal of the sponsored post model.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)