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The typical internet user sees thousands of advertisements every day, and the majority of us have gotten very good at ignoring them. An illustration would be the appallingly low click-through rates (CTR) of the majority of traditional advertising, including display ads.

Because of this, more and more marketers are funding native advertising efforts, or advertisements that mimic original content. You can find them everywhere if you look for them, from sponsored posts and full podcasts to in-feed advertisements on social media and sponsored pieces in magazines like the New York Times, Forbes, and Buzzfeed.

However, not all native advertising is successful. The best native advertisements evoke a sense of creative inspiration, like Spotify’s collaboration with Netflix to promote Stranger Things. They have a strong message and lovely design, as well as excellent copywriting. The worst are, well, like advertising.

We’ve compiled a collection of the top native ad ideas to serve as inspiration for your upcoming campaign.

Simply put, native advertising is paid content. Articles, infographics, videos, you name it – if a content producer can make it, corporations can buy it and publishing platforms can promote it.

Now, you might be thinking, “How does a native advertisement differ from an advertorial?” Well, in order to be considered a true native advertisement, the content should align with the publication or site’s established editorial style and tone, and must also provide the kind of information that the publication’s audience typically expects.

These qualities are what make native advertisements difficult to spot, as they often blend in with the “organic” content extremely well. This is made even more challenging by the fact that there are no defined rules or guidelines on how publishers must label native ads, and standards of transparency vary widely from one publication to another.

It’s also worth noting that native advertising is not necessarily the same thing as content advertising. Unfortunately, the overlap between the two disciplines and their similarity in name often result in confusion.

Brands and advertisers love native ads, mainly because the click-through rates tend to be much higher than typical advertisements and engagement is usually much stronger. However, not everyone is as enamored with native ads, particularly consumers.

Several professional organizations have weighed in on the often vague nature of native advertising. The Federal Trade Commission is considering implementing regulatory measures on brands using native ads to promote their products, and the FTC has also indicated it may monitor the market closely to ensure that native advertising is being used in a manner that benefits consumers. The American Society of Magazine Editors has also called for greater transparency and oversight when it comes to native advertising.

The reason that many publishers see native advertising as a risky proposition is the potential for this kind of content to erode the public’s trust. After all, if The New York Times publishes a “story” by Dell in exchange for money, can the Times objectively report on matters relating to Dell, or has every mention of the company been paid for? This is the dilemma facing publishers today.

Before we look at some of the best native advertising examples (and a rogue’s gallery of some of the worst), let’s acquaint ourselves with the state of the native advertising landscape:

  • Almost half of consumers have no idea what native advertising is
  • Of those consumers who do, 51% are skeptical
  • Three out of four publishers offer some form of native advertising on their sites
  • 90% of publishers either have or plan to launch native advertising campaigns
  • 41% of brands are currently using native advertising as part of wider promotional efforts

Below are some of the top native advertising ideas that you can utilize for your business.

1. Most people successfully ignore advertising

Depending on media habits, an average adult sees between 400 and 10,000 ads every day. That’s… a lot of information to take in. In fact, it’s more information than any of us can handle, which is why most people have developed techniques for ignoring advertising, a phenomenon known as banner blindness.

Banner blindness describes how many of us actively ignore any element on a web page that looks like an ad. As multiple studies have shown, we not only ignore paid ads, but also ignore elements next to ads. 

As the Nielsen Norman Group put it, “To complete their tasks efficiently, people have learned to pay attention to elements that typically are helpful (e.g., navigation bars, search boxes, headlines) and ignore those which are usually void of information.”

Sorry, marketers — for most people in your target audience, your ads are in that ‘void of information’ category. 

2. Social media advertising is becoming more expensive

As most marketers know, social media platforms have long been ‘pay to play.’ The decline in organic reach has meant that a large and growing proportion of marketing budgets are devoted to paid distribution on social networks, often with mixed results. 

In an increasingly crowded space, smart marketing teams are looking to diversify. Content marketing using native ads has become an increasingly popular aspect of the marketing strategy of major brands.

3. Brand association

Media publications rise and fall on the strength of their reputation. This reputation — for independence, expertise, relevance, or trust —  is hard-won. Unlike banner ads, native advertisements are experienced as being ‘part’ of the host publication, which means that they grant brand association and brand awareness benefits to advertisers. 

Read Also: How do You Write Native Advertising?

But this association works both ways. This is why media companies need to be careful with which companies they engage as native advertising clients, as the wrong company can tarnish their own valuable brand. 

4. Privacy

The display and social media ads many of us see on websites and apps are famously — or infamously — targeted. This makes advertising more relevant, which is great for advertisers, who see a better ROI. It’s also somewhat better for consumers, who are made aware of more relevant products and services than would otherwise be the case.

But this all comes at the cost of privacy. Consumers — and regulators — are increasingly concluding that this cost is too high. According to Kantar, while 54% of people like advertising tailored to them, 56% are concerned about privacy.

With the rise of GDPR-style regulations around the world, the potential end of email tracking, and the promise of a cookie-less web, marketers are going to need to find new outlets for their digital advertising spend. 

5. Native advertising works

Most importantly, native advertisements have been shown to work. An Outbrain study found that “native ads shown on “premium” news sites in the UK, France, and Germany are more likely to be trusted (+31%), clicked on (+16%) and lead to future purchases (+18%) than ads that appear on social media platforms.”

One reason for this is that native advertising offers a better user experience. Most forms of digital advertising interrupt and distract the reader from what they’re trying to do. 

Done well native advertising is what the reader is trying to do, which allows it to be fully immersive. 

6. Media companies are offering better options

With the decline of print subscriptions and disappointing digital advertising revenues, many media companies are embracing native content. 

A Reuters Institute study about media in 2021 revealed that 61% of publishers think native advertising is the most important revenue stream for their digital business. While subscriptions — often in the form of digital paywalls — still come in first place for preferred revenue streams, native ads help diversify digital income.

In an increasingly crowded field, media companies are also offering more sophisticated options for native advertising. Using digital storytelling platforms — used by brands like the BBC and Sky News — these companies are creating highly immersive visual stories that are as compelling as any other content published to the web. 

Tips for Native Advertising Spending

For all the opportunities that native advertising presents, there are still a few things you need to consider to be successful. Here are some best practices to keep in mind as you plan and create your next native ad campaign. 

Work with the tone and style of the publication

Your content should fit seamlessly with its surroundings, which means your style and tone needs to match that of the publication. This starts with choosing the right publication to partner with. 

Native content for an athletic shoe company makes much more sense on a fitness publication’s website than a woodworking one. It’s also worth ensuring that your writing matches the voice of the publication.

Don’t make it look like an ad

Let’s state the obvious: people don’t like ads. 63% of Americans have a negative attitude towards ads in videos, and 47% dislike ads on websites. 

The best way to get around this is to make sure your content has value in its own right. Depending on your audience and goals, make sure your piece is genuinely interesting, educational, informative, or entertaining.

Even if the native ad content doesn’t look like the “usual” ad format, you still have to be mindful not to create something that feels sales-forward. After all, no one will want to spend their precious time reading through a 1,000-word ad. 

Make it visual

Most major publishers employ journalists, and journalists love words. But to stand out from the crowd, you need your story to use a wide range of media assets, including video, illustrations, data, maps, photography, and animations.

Many publications invest in multimedia storytelling for their own content and may have options to help you produce multimedia visual stories. To do so at scale, these publishers use digital storytelling platforms.

Create high quality content

This should go without saying, but your native content needs to be as interesting and immersive as the best content on your host publication. Ideally, it should be as stunning as the best digital content on the web. 

Native advertising partnerships offer an excellent mode of distribution — but there’s no point paying for all those eyeballs if your content is sub-par.

Use scroll-based visual techniques 

Scroll-based effects — sometimes called scrollytelling — are a powerful way to capture and keep the attention of your reader. If you have a development team on hand, you can build something bespoke. If not, or if you want to create immersive reading experiences at scale, you can try a no-code digital storytelling platform. 

Creative Tips for Native Advertising

Advertisers must get creative as people become more sophisticated in the ways they discover and interact with content. Most consumers can spot an ad from a mile away, and they’re more likely to respond to and interact with it if it follows these best practices:

1. Use lifestyle images

Lifestyle images are those including people engaging in real-life activities. It could be one person or several, likely engaging with or using your product. Ideally, these images show the sentiment you want people to relate to your brand story or product. You’re telling a story through pictures, whether that’s a party, a boardroom, a solo hike in fitness wear, or a mechanic working on a space shuttle. These images help people envision using the product or service in a relatable situation.

Logo, text, or any other elements shouldn’t be included in the image for a few reasons. Some native ads have a text overlay, and if your image includes a logo or other elements, it could be obscured and create a poor user experience. Further, using a logo and other elements diverts from the purpose of native advertising, which is to blend within the environment—not stand out as an ad.

2. Avoid image clutter

Clean images with a single center of focus will help your ad stand out. Having a “cluttered” image means there are too many objects that aren’t the focus. It might be difficult for viewers to immediately know where to look or settle their eyes. Clutter draws the vision in too many directions. People only spend seconds on images; you don’t want those seconds wasted deciding what they should focus on.

Clutter can be extra people, items, or elements unrelated to the image. If you can’t remove the clutter from your images, there are some tricks you can implement.

Most images have more background than is needed, and often, zooming in and cropping will remove background clutter. If that’s not an option, an alternative is more creative. Try drawing focus to your main image by creatively blurring or darkening the edges to fade the clutter into the background.

3. Target your title

If you can’t show it in imagery, you need to say it in your title. Famous advertiser David Ogilvy was known for powerful copywriting, and he knew a good title could get people to read further. He said, “When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

If your title doesn’t entice them, it doesn’t matter how good anything else is because they’ll never see it.

Engage your audience by speaking to them directly by using “you,” “your,” or “Meet the new Xbox wireless headset,” for example. It personalizes the copy and makes the reader feel like you’re talking to them. It may be just the pause needed to keep them reading.

4. Front-load titles

Do you notice some post starts with “Top 5”? That’s because we front-loaded the title with an eye-catching numbered list to entice engagement. If you’re reading this, it worked.

Front-loading your native advertising title optimizes it so the main point of your content is at the beginning. Viewers will only spend a fraction of a second on seeing what it’s about, so don’t waste it on filler words. Entice them with a list or use power words upfront.

5. Run multiple assets

Consumers quickly learn to overlook something they’ve seen before. When the images follow best practices and promote your brand message in a positive light, they can drive more viewer action and encourage interaction. Ultimately, this will help to achieve your goals.

Keep people engaged by creating a plan to refresh images to maximize performance. Go live with at least three to five ads testing different iterations of images and headlines.

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MegaIncomeStream is a global resource for Business Owners, Marketers, Bloggers, Investors, Personal Finance Experts, Entrepreneurs, Financial and Tax Pundits, available online. egaIncomeStream has attracted millions of visits since 2012 when it started publishing its resources online through their seasoned editorial team. The Megaincomestream is arguably a potential Pulitzer Prize-winning source of breaking news, videos, features, and information, as well as a highly engaged global community for updates and niche conversation. The platform has diverse visitors, ranging from, bloggers, webmasters, students and internet marketers to web designers, entrepreneur and search engine experts.