The use of native ads is growing among publishers, with 63% of marketers increasing their native ad budgets for 2015. This increase continues the trend from 2014 and reinforces projections that spending on native ads will rise to $4.3 billion this year.
But that doesn’t mean everyone is all in. To put it in perspective, according to an ANA study, that spending still only represents 5% or less of marketers’ budgets. Add to that the elephant in the room: There are still many who see native ads as a form of deception and a mechanism that oversteps the lines between editorial and advertising.
Yet, some don’t hesitate to embrace the elephant, with Forbes leading the way in the media industry:
- Forbes’ bold move to include native ads on its print covers—just part of the 30% of advertising revenue that comes from their BrandVoice program.
- Conde Nast’s editors working in their branded content studio and;
- Time Inc’s editors making ads for Google’s mobile app.
What does this mean for you?
Simply put: tread smartly. Here are five tips to get you going in that direction:
1) Be Transparent and Self-Regulate: Follow the example of Forbes’ and other native ad pioneers by being absolutely clear to readers that an ad is an ad. And don’t blur the lines towards deception - which will evoke confusion instead of action. The Federal Trade Commission takes a hard line on misleading consumers, and stringent regulation is on the table, so don’t give readers or regulators reason to question you.
2) If you go for it, own it. Going the way of native ads means that ads match the form and function of your website better than ever and are delivered in context to your readers. Your readers find them useful and likely your advertisers benefit from your editorial assistance as well as better returns. If you have the resources, don’t outsource your native ad business. It’s another revenue stream, just waiting for you.
3) Deliver Credibility. Consumers actually perceive greater credibility in a website and the sponsored content on that site, if it is done well. What does that mean exactly?
- Well, surprise, surprise, it starts with clearly labeled ads.
- The content needs to be useful.
- The content needs to be relevant to the reader—and what they are interested in at the time it is viewed.
4) Don’t Skimp on Distribution. Like any content, it is only king if you have a queen by its side—distribution is the key to the power of good content. You must have strong distribution to make that content rule.
5) Be Mobile-Centric. You know how important mobile friendliness is in general, but think about it in the context of ads: traditional banner ads don’t really work on mobile. But, it’s more than that—native mobile ads deliver 6x the conversions that banner ads do. Need we say more?
Native ads can be a legitimate, bountiful revenue source that boosts your engagement and builds your credibility. Start with these 5 tips and your eyes wide open—and just see what happens.