Native advertising has been a controversial topic since it really came to fruition in 2013. Some people think it’s deceptive, while others believe it is something that’s going to dramatically change the way advertising is done. Despite the negative stigma attached to native advertising, its use is on the rise. With native advertising becoming more popular, more major publishers are starting to support the phenomenon. Here are a few examples of these big publishers and what they’re doing to shape the native advertising world that should make you, as a publisher, consider native advertising as well.
New York Times
In early January, the New York Times introduced its first installment of native ads to go along with the redesign of its website. Its first native advertiser was Dell. The Times bought a three month contract that reached six figures to have Dell post their articles along with placing banner ads. The Dell logo is featured next to the Times banner at the top where a new page, paidpost.nytimes.com, is opened up where you can view all of Dell’s native ad posts. Along with having its own “paid post” domain, the Times’ native ads are also clearly labeled as paid posts and feature a disclaimer at the bottom. Transparency is a big part of the native ad structure.[Tweet “The NYT holds native ad writers to the same editorial standards as the rest of its staff.”]
Although the idea for these ads was created by the New York Times staff, the articles aren’t solely written by them. The Times is still holding writers to the same editorial standards that you typically see on their site so you can still expect to read high quality content. On Dell’s community boards they wrote:
On our [New York Times] Paid Posts page you’ll find stories about entrepreneurs, innovation and other subjects our audiences have expressed interest in rather than Dell talking about Dell or our products. Again, the purpose of this strategy is to serve our customers.
The CEO of the Times said that their dip into the native advertising pool is meant to restore growth in its digital ad revenue. The Times is a great place for native ads to be placed because it’s a very reputable site that consumers trust. It’s a safe place for native ads to exist and marketers and publishers will be keeping their eyes on the Times’ success to track the future of native advertising.
In November of 2012, Mashable redesigned its online and mobile websites. When doing this they also redesigned the advertising options by implementing native ads. Mashable referred to it as a “storytelling ads unit.” This treatment is set up to have brands buy multiple units on a page that are placed together to create one single narrative as the reader scrolls.
According to Mashable’s content editor, Lauren Dell, the branded content (native ads) exceed the set benchmarks for shares and views. The time readers spend on branded content is 50% higher than the normal content found on Mashable. These results mean that Mashable’s branded content is more captivating than their typical articles.
Mashable only runs sponsored content for a certain period of time. The advertisers pay for the amount of time they see fit. Once that time frame has lapsed, Mashable will remove any trace of the sponsored content. According to the National Advertising Division, this was considered acceptable because Mashable’s content is “more akin to an advertisement that [runs] alongside an article for a period of time, rather than content written to further an advertiser’s commercial end.”
BuzzFeed is the most widely recognized site for using native advertising. Its sponsored content is said to have brought in $60 million in 2013. BuzzFeed has been able to achieve great success with its advertising because it has a thorough system in place. A creative lead is assigned to each project to keep consistency for the client until the end. The goal for the ads is to get three additional people to see a piece of content for every 10 views. After a week of an ad going live, if they are not seeing the results they want, they make adjustments to their efforts to ensure success.
Like many publishers doing native ads, BuzzFeed runs theirs alongside the normal content, and is also known for promoting the content through social media such as Facebook and Twitter to generate traffic to the articles. Although this costs additional money, the generated traffic is a compelling advantage to run native ads through BuzzFeed. It’s the cherry on top for choosing that site.
Onion Labs is the in-house marketing and advertising team for the satirical website theonion.com. While they offer many forms of ads, native advertising is quickly becoming the most popular. Some say that The Onion does native advertising better than any online publication. The reason for this is because native ads run on the site are comprised of the same satirical material typically found on The Onion and the majority of people love them.
When you’re reading something that is a little more humorous and “out there” than normal, it is less likely for you to feel like you’re reading a native ad. (Except for their seemingly most popular native ad, sponsored by Adobe, where they are literally asking you to click on the banner ads.) The Onion has worked with somewhere between 15 and 20 companies for branded content. Some of these companies include Dove, Home Depot, Orbitz, and EA Games.[Tweet “The Onion has successfully implemented native ads because it maintains the same satirical voice. “]
The Onion generates almost 11 million unique visits each month, making this site a great place to advertise. However, like BuzzFeed, it advertises through social media to drive traffic to the content, although consumers aren’t aware it is sponsored content until they click on the article from the social media platform.
Every publisher has a different way of creating and displaying native ads, however all have seemed to execute them with great success. What technique is your favorite? How do you think you think native advertising could benefit you?