Approach Native Advertising as a Benefit for Both Sides, Marketing Strategist Says

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All too often we hear the phrase that readers don’t mind native content. It can mean dollars for you and not be a distraction for your audience.

TonyVlismasTony Vlismas, marketing strategy expert for Polar, does not take that approach. He wants publishers to “set up a program that puts your reader first not the brand… Having a native ad strategy is not just about having native ads. It’s about creating great content as well.”

In an informative, easy-to-digest SIIA webinar this week—the video playback is posted here, the presentation deck here—Vlismas explained that when done right, native advertising should be looked at as a major positive for you and your audience. Here’s why:

– A better mobile experience. You’ve seen the numbers of people moving to mobile—even for B2B. Display advertising doesn’t always show up well on mobile. You can make sure that native advertising does.

– Helpful content. Native advertising content should benefit your audience. Many companies are developing its own talented staff to write the copy.

– Native adverting can take any form. “We’re talking about customer content that’s specific to your audience,” Vlismas said. “Remind them that native goes beyond words. It can be anything, an infographic, a white paper—people love downloading white papers—case studies, video [which] is hot right now.”

 Virability. Engagement on referral traffic is 62% higher than the norm. If it’s done right, your audience will share native content. “If it’s good or bite-sized, it’s much easier to share,” Vlismas said. “More people will click thru, and that means brand extension for you.”

For Vlismas, native advertising is the overarching term—“the all-encompassing program”—and then sponsored content falls under that. An advertorial is something different; it may be a brand your audience doesn’t like.

He is also adamant that your audience be made totally clear that content is sponsored. Data shows that people are more comfortable when it’s labeled properly. “As a publisher you know your audience best,” Vlismas said. “You should be writing the headlines. That will keep a better, more consistent voice between sponsor content and editorial. Be very obvious that something is sponsored—maybe have shading in the background, a border, a badge.”

Data also suggests that B2B is a very ripe place for native advertising.—it has a higher CTR than other verticals.

Another point Vlismas made is that native works well with display. It can actually help drive it. “Publishers can charge more of a premium for a companion display, a display ad that’s sold as part of a native ad component,” he said. “Display ads have higher CTR so it’s more of a premium. Content creation is a big component to native ads. Don’t just give that content away for free.”

He also pointed out that you should be charging for the social distribution that you will be giving it as well. “Who knows how to do better distribution that a publisher?” he asked.

An inclusive pricing model has been more popular with publishers, but Vlismas said that, “instead of bundling the components, we line it separately.” That could mean display, content creation, projected impressions, number of articles. Media buyers might be able to dip into their display budget to help the buy.

“Through the data you’ll find that you want to hold your homepage native ads placement for your larger buys. Mobile is part of the larger package because its CTR is higher than desktop. You don’t have to include everything in your buy.”

Next comes the marketing. “We name everything,” said Vlismas. “By properly branding it, [people will] take native more seriously. Content programs are hot, especially internationally. Work with your marketing team to come up with a good brand name that will help differentiate it for you.

“Then make sure your media kit is up to date. If I’m a brand or media buyer—you’re a respected publisher—I might start by going to your website.” He also believes that case studies could help strengthen your sales position.

“Then put the name of the program out there. Set up a content marketing opportunity. [Tell the] media buyer, ‘This is why native and sponsored content is important to you. Native is the fastest growing digital ad medium. More and more B2B are turning to mobile, which is good [because] it’s not just 9-5.”

Finally, Vlismas believes this can help you be a thought leader and drive loyalty. “Native is great for brand awareness. You can dive in and get more data from a native ad, especially around mobile native. And you can wrap it around contextually relevant content.”

There’s much more on the webinar.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…