Advertisers, in a world of increasingly fragmented audiences, have to increasingly adopt new ways of gaining awareness.
Luke Spano, MD of native content specialist Avid Collective, sees this manifesting in a variety of ways, whether that’s in the difficulty to gain attention on or trust through advertising, delivering at the right time or when people are in the right mindset or the lack of ability to educate through the creative being produced, because of size or time limitations.
“All these things are characteristics of advertising - if you're a marketer, or an advertiser, they're just the things that you contend with when you're doing advertising every day of the week, and you kind of try to overcome them with the different strategies and tactics that you have,” Spano tells AdNews.
“Native content sits on the opposite end of the spectrum where consumers are opting in to consume it and they're giving it their full attention because they're actually consuming the content rather than ignoring the ad on the side.”
Spano says that native content, which he defines as content (for example, a written article) produced and promoted by a publisher, focused on an advertiser’s message, that looks and feels the same as their editorial content but is produced in partnership with the advertising brand, can help to solve the problems confronting advertisers in today’s age.
“The audience has a relationship with the publisher - they trust the masthead, especially if it's an independent passion point publisher, where they've got a lot more inclination to lean in,” he says.
“They’re usually in that right mindset [to receive the message]; content is far more educational and enriching; you can communicate complex messages; it’s a lot more immersive and you can be entertaining, engaging and emotive.
“I think it's got all these great characteristics that the advertisers and marketers find really appealing, but if you look at why isn't it a bigger channel already, from an ROI standpoint it hasn't stacked up, because it's too resource intensive and there hasn't been an easy way to do it at scale.”
Spano has five key tips for native content campaigns.
Objective NOT objectives
Spano says the first tip is to be clear with the one - and maybe two, max - things that want to be achieved with each portion/phase of the campaign.
"Don't try and do it all just cause you can. With content you can do anything/a lot, but you can't do everything," he says.
The right publishers for the specific campaign
Looking for highly relevant audience fit is important, Spano says. But this audience also needs to be highly engaged. For example, a broad news publisher might have lots of "travel intenders" but those same travel intenders will be in much more of a "considering travel" mindset if consuming a travel publication .
A range of 'right' publishers
Spano says to achieve significant reach and also deliver the message in a way that is highly relevant for the audience, working with a wide range of publishers for each campaign will provide the best chance of achieving this.
"Different messages require different formats, and publishers offer lots of different formats, thus finding the right ones is very important," he says.
Creative (Content) and messaging
Ensure publishers are empowered to digest the key message and communicate it in a way the audience is going to enjoy and understand.
Spano believes the businesses that will be the most successful are the ones that are customer-centric, focused on making the audience experience the best.
“I just think that over time, that's going to mean less and less advertising, because advertising is intrusive,” he tells AdNews. .
“Businesses like News Corp and The Guardian have proven it with subscription news. It's definitely feasible and that model is growing and that's going to make advertising more and more difficult.
“That's a big thing we talk about with native content; it’s about creating value for the audience. That's what good native content is, not what's of value to the advertiser that the consumer will just cop.”
Spano says with native content, advertisers are essentially trying to figure out how to communicate in a way that's going to provide a lot of value.
“That's what publishers are the best at: they understand their specific audiences, specific demos and passion points far better than advertisers,” he says.
“It's a conversation rather than someone shouting at you - what's more likely to influence your opinion? Having a deep conversation about a topic with someone that you trust, that you can engage with, or walking on the street or someone just yelling at you over the top?"
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