A major topic at Hubspot’s Inbound Publishers Summit last week in Boston was the evolving role of native advertising. Though we’ve seen incredible growth in content produced online in recent years, the explosion has only just begun, and many companies are scrambling to harness the power of digital content. One way that publishers are already doing this (aside from producing said content, of course) is by deploying native ads within it. With native ad spending projected to increase by 35% to $4.3 billion this year, it’s safe to say that the industry’s interest has been officially piqued. Interestingly, 71% of advertisers reported employing native ads in social media content only. How is that affecting current social media advertising practices? Here are three ways:
1. We already know that social media users essentially ignore generic branded content, so the more appropriate your promotional content is for the context, the better your chances are of your social media audience actually seeing it. Native advertising offers brands an opportunity to connect with users on platforms that are constantly changing to provide better user experiences.
2. In the SEO and content marketing realms we hear the mantra “Content is King” repeated at every possible opportunity, but a more accurate spin on it for native ads could be “Context is King.” Having a tightly defined audience is key for success in native advertising, though many brands still struggle to define what that success means for their business. On social this can be particularly tricky—is a native advertising campaign’s success measured in shares? Clicks? Reach? New definitions for ROI on social media may emerge as brands learn to use native ads more effectively.
3. Many social media platforms have offered their own paid ad and native ad services for a while now, but these are heavily reliant on publishers to produce the content streams where they’ll appear. Publishers are in a prime position to capitalize on advertisers’ reliance on their content, and indeed many of them are beginning to offer their own agency services to do just that. Without their own content alliances or production arms, social media platforms could lose out.
Social media users now have more ways to customize their feeds, control their personal information, and block out the content they don’t want to see than ever before. Brands are tasked with maintaining an in-depth understanding of who their audiences are, what they want, and when they should give it to them—the less relevant the message, the more likely it is to be tuned out. It’s a landscape that’s constantly changing (see Buzzfeed’s recent pitch of its POUND (Process for Optimizing and Understanding Network Diffusion tool) which means businesses must be constantly optimizing their social media marketing plans.
Stay tuned for native ad developments outside of the social media space. Google’s own content delivery platform is currently invite-only, and could roll out any day now.