Just as chameleons change colors, native content changes formats to blend in with different environments.
The Nature of Sponsored Media Placements:
A native ad is a paid placement of relevant content on a third-party site, formatted to fit the platform. These ads appear in-stream and are narrowly targetted, intended to encourage engagement without disrupting the user experience. Native content includes sponsored articles, videos, photos, and social media posts. Brands use this form of marketing to create awareness, drive website traffic, and generate leads. An example of a GoPro sponsored Instagram ad is pictured below.
Challenges for Marketers and Publishers:
- There is controversy over the deceptiveness of sponsored content. Some consumers, publishers, brands, and government regulators have expressed concern that sponsored pieces may unfairly mislead readers.
- There are many regulations on native advertising to ensure promotional messages are transparent in nature. For example, native ads must include thorough disclosures in the title, URL, meta description, near the beginning, in social sharing messages, and in embedded media. It may become difficult for publishers to keep up with the FTC’s rules and regulations.
- Consumers often express dislike for seeing sponsored content on their favorite websites and social media platforms. With the abundance of content online, it becomes easy for sponsored content to get overlooked.
- There are no set standards for pricing in this category which makes budgeting predictions difficult for marketers. In 2016, sponsored content often takes the form of videos, which are expensive to produce.
Future Predictions by Content Marketing Experts:
In an interview with the Bateman Group, Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, discussed the future of native advertising. Joe highlighted the importance of using the native ad format to deliver a unique message:
“The biggest problem I see is companies trying to make their content fit in. You don’t want to fit in; you want to stand out. You have an opportunity to get in front of a new audience, so say something interesting.”
On the Moz Blog, Chad Pollitt provides a guide to defining sponsored content, industry research, and predictions:
“With the growth of online content showing no signs of slowing, the use of sponsored content as a marketing channel will undoubtedly continue to grow as well. Besides, it’s a proven revenue stream for publishers who have often struggled to make money on the Internet.”
Many experts predict native advertising will continue to grow in upcoming years. To remain competitive, marketers and publishers must continue to experiment with new digital strategies as technologies evolve.
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