Responsive Web DesignNative ads are a type of promotional message that naturally interlocks with editorial content, aiming to position the image of the brand in the consumer’s mind and to drive the users to take a certain action. Since traditional display advertising, such as banners or pop-ups, are increasingly perceived as a nuisance and often simply ignored ("banner blindness"), the growing popularity of ‘native advertising’ becomes clear. Instead of the usual graphical banners, with short and intrusive advertising and call-to-actions like "click here" or "buy now", real content gains ground, such as "advertorials" or "sponsored posts".

The trick is that this type of advertising doesn’t look like advertising at first sight, but more like an editorial article. Only by doing a double take, the differences to actual blog posts become evident when noticing the usually inconspicuous promotional tag "featured partner" or "sponsored post" at the end.

Innovative marketers in Asia advertise for quite some time with native ads and their success rates are impressive, as editorial coverage gives a topic or product more credibility, according to studies: IPG Media Lab, for instance, reported that native ads are perceived by users up to 52% more often than standard banners; or Nielsen Research found out that natively embedded videos can enhance the reputation of a brand by 82%.

Native advertising does not only seem to be natural, but at the same time supportive for communicative approaches with the target audience and getting in touch with them. Today, the point is to spread valuable content in the network and pick up the users where they already deal with topics, which is mainly on mobile devices. Due to the smaller screen size, users perceive banner advertising on mobile phones as more disruptive than on large desktop screens, which again shows the natural advantage of native ads. They present themselves as additional content and therefore don’t really have a negative effect, but rather increase brand awareness and reach by enabling targeted distribution of content to specific portals and websites where interested readers are looking for that particular topic, even beyond their own platforms – which is what works only to an extent with standard ad formats.

Therefore, native advertising campaigns must be planned similarly to traditional large display campaigns on sophisticated technology - such as a special ad server, agencies or service providers - to keep the costs low. Of course, they can complement the old online advertising formats such as skyscrapers, pre-rolls or text ads.

With the necessary budget to afford the luxury of an agency, you have obvious advantages, as advertising content can be played automatically from a central location via an ad server on the partner portals of the agency. Ideally, the ad server has intelligent targeting and real-time optimization technology that supports the accurate targeting in the delivery of content. The billing can take place via fixed price or cost per click (CPC), just to give you an idea, but we will see how native advertising will continue to develop.

Considering all that data driven marketing, I am glad to see that we still live in a world that values connections and puts the consumers in the driving seat. At least, it is forcing marketers to focus more on a healthy mix of original, specialized content that appeals to the needs of the new generation of customers. Always keep in mind to add a human touch to your marketing practices to make your customers feel like they know you and can trust you, encouraging them to become fans and promoters of your brand. General impersonal marketing and advertising messages to the masses are increasingly less effective and empathy on eye level is expected.

By Daniela La Marca