What is native advertising and how to use it


The chances are pretty good that, even though you may not have realized it, you’ve sầu seen several examples of native advertising. These days, native advertising is everywhere – và it’s getting harder và harder lớn spot.

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There’s something not quite right about this cheeseburger…

In today’s post, we’re going lớn look at what native sầu advertising is, why it can be so controversial, and several native advertising examples that are really impressive – as well as a few that are downright terrible.

What Is Native Advertising?

Simply put, native sầu advertising is paid content. Articles, infographics, videos, you name it – if a nội dung producer can make it, corporations can buy it & publishing platforms can promote it.

Now, you might be thinking, “How does a native sầu advertisement differ from an advertorial?” Well, in order to be considered a true native sầu advertisement, the nội dung should align with the publication or site’s established editorial style & tone, & must also provide the kind of information that the publication’s audience typically expects.

These qualities are what make native advertisements difficult to spot, as they often blkết thúc in with the “organic” nội dung extremely well. This is made even more challenging by the fact that there are no defined rules or guidelines on how publishers must label native sầu ads, and standards of transparency vary widely from one publication to another.

It"s also worth noting that native sầu advertising is not necessarily the same thing as content advertising. Unfortunately, the overlap between the two disciplines and their similarity in name often result in confusion.


Why Is Native sầu Advertising So Controversial?

“Don’t triông chồng them. Don’t piss them off.”

This was the advice of Eric Goeres, director of innovation at Time magazine, speaking at the recent Contently Summit. Goeres spoke during the “Truth in Advertising” panel at the sự kiện, during which the topic of native sầu advertising took center stage. Goeres’ words of warning refer lớn the trust between a publisher và its audience, & he emphasized the dangers of angering readers by resorting lớn trickery & deception lớn make a quiông xã buchồng.


Brands và advertisers love sầu native sầu ads, mainly because the click-through rates tend khổng lồ be much higher than typical advertisements và engagement is usually much stronger. However, not everyone is as enamored with native sầu ads, particularly consumers.

Several professional organizations have sầu weighed in on the often vague nature of native sầu advertising. The Federal Trade Commission is considering implementing regulatory measures on brands using native sầu ads to promote their products, & the FTC has also indicated it may monitor the market closely khổng lồ ensure that native advertising is being used in a manner that benefits consumers. The American Society of Magazine Editors has also called for greater transparency & oversight when it comes khổng lồ native sầu advertising.

The reason that many publishers see native advertising as a risky proposition is the potential for this kind of content to erode the public’s trust. After all, if The Thủ đô New York Times publishes a “story” by Dell in exchange for money, can the Times objectively report on matters relating to Dell, or has every mention of the company been paid for? This is the dilemma facing publishers today.


Native Advertising Statistics

Before we look at some of the best native advertising examples (& a rogue’s gallery of some of the worst), let’s acquaint ourselves with the state of the native sầu advertising landscape:

Almost half of consumers have sầu no idea what native sầu advertising isOf those consumers who vị, 51% are skepticalThree out of four publishers offer some khung of native advertising on their sites90% of publishers either have or plan khổng lồ launch native sầu advertising campaigns41% of brands are currently using native sầu advertising as part of wider promotional efforts

5 Great Native sầu Advertising Examples

So, now that we’ve sầu established that native advertising is here to stay (for the time being at least), let’s take a look at some of the best – and worst – native advertising examples.

1. "Woman Going lớn Take Quiông xã Break After Filling Out Name, Address on Tax Forms," The Onion

One of the funniest satirical sites on the website, The Onion also has a strong grasp on native advertising, as exemplified by this particularly well-known example.


This example is, admittedly, a little murky when it comes lớn the definition of native advertising above. Firstly, The Onion created this nội dung specifically for its client (in this case, H&R Block), rather than Blochồng simply publishing its own nội dung on the site. However, the nội dung itself & its positioning still classify it as native sầu advertising, rather than “traditional” sponsored nội dung, at least in my book.

When this nội dung was published in 2012, it was framed by several traditional vertical & horizontal banner ads for H&R Bloông xã. Even if visitors didn’t clichồng on these banners (which they’re unlikely to lớn, as you’re 475 times more likely to survive sầu a plane crash than clichồng a banner ad, according to Solve sầu Media), the result was significantly increased brvà awareness.

Why It Works

Although the content of this post isn’t about H&R Bloông xã specifically, it does address the typically bland, dry topic of taxes in a fun, relatable & highly entertaining way, creating a positive sầu association with the advertiser. This native ad even poked fun at the box that clearly marks the page as sponsored content by including an endorsement from The Onion’s fictitious “publisher emeritus” T. Herman Zweibel.

Although the banners served as calls khổng lồ action, the main purpose of the chiến dịch was to further increase H&R Block’s brvà awareness – a goal that this native advertising example accomplished admirably.

2. "Infographic: UPS’s 2012 Change in the (Supply) Chain Survey," Fast Company

This infographic highlighting UPS’s innovations in its supply chain management operations is another excellent example of native sầu advertising. It’s not the prettiest infographic you’ll ever see, but it gets the job done.


Why It Works

What makes this infographic such a great example of native advertising is that its virtually indistinguishable from Fast Company’s typical nội dung. Notice the tiny gray “Advertisement” tag at the top? It’s definitely easy to miss. The infographic’s use of UPS’ brown & yellow color scheme further reinforces the content’s brvà messaging in a subtle way, và the infographic succeeds in selling UPS’ services in the tried-and-trusted “problem/solution” format.

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3. "10 Quotes Every Grad Needs lớn Read," BuzzFeed

Alongside Upworthy, BuzzFeed is the most successful viral hit factory on the web. Is it any wonder that the site would eventually open up its coveted readership khổng lồ sponsors with deep pockets? Case in point, the BuzzFeed “Community” pages, featuring brands lượt thích publishing giant HarperCollins:

As you can see above, posts made to the Community section of BuzzFeed have “not been vetted or endorsed by BuzzFeed’s editorial staff,” meaning that HarperCollins (& Mini, and Peptê mê, and the other brands that publish content at BuzzFeed) have sầu simply paid for the privilege of getting their brvà in front of BuzzFeed’s audience. Apart from the prominent HarperCollins logo above sầu the social share buttons, there’s little to set this apart from BuzzFeed’s regular content.

Why It Works

Timeliness factors inkhổng lồ the success of this native sầu advertising example. Firstly, the post was published in late June, coinciding well with graduation season. Secondly, the basis of the post was teacher David McCullough, Jr.’s famous “You Are Not Special” commencement speech, which itself went viral.

The post adheres strictly to BuzzFeed’s popular animated .GIF/listicle post format, making it easily digestible, and the headline is impeccably crafted for BuzzFeed’s audience, as you’d expect. There’s very little obvious connection between the client (a major publishing house) khổng lồ the nội dung, aside from the implied relationship between college graduates và books, so the ad comes off as a “soft sell,” which is easier for audiences to stomach than forceful sản phẩm placement.

4. "Should You Accept Your Employer’s Pension Buyout Offer?", Forbes

Forbes has published articles lượt thích this for years, but as the publication has transitioned from a full-time staff khổng lồ a contributor-led mã sản phẩm, it’s hardly surprising that Forbes has begun to lớn publish native sầu advertising by financial institutions lượt thích this one from Fidelity Investments.

This is a particularly good example of native advertising, as while the post is most definitely branded & has an unmistakable angle, the post itself contains some real substance. It outlines the pros và cons of both monthly payment và lump sum pension buyout options, backed up with hard numbers about inflation rates and how accepting a pension buyout offer can affect your tax status.

Why It Works

Yes, it’s blatantly branded nội dung, và Fidelity makes no secret of its services, but this post actually contains more financial advice và insight than most typical Forbes finance & business content. Readers should most definitely remain aware of Fidelity’s agenda when reading, but overall, this native sầu advertisement provides real value lớn the reader, does so in a way that Forbes’ audience would expect, & aligns with the publication’s editorial và stylistic guidelines. A great example.

5. "Hennessy Fuels Our Chase for the Wild Rabbit … But What Does It All Mean?", Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair has a long tradition of publishing effortlessly trendy lifestyle journalism, which makes it an ikhuyễn mãi giảm giá vehicle (pardon the pun) for native advertising.

This native sầu ad combines Clip và written nội dung to lớn go behind the scenes of a video clip about English race car driver Sir Malcolm Campbell, “The Faskiểm tra Man on Earth.” Campbell was the first man to break the 300mph l& tốc độ record way back in 1935, and he remains an enduring symbol of ambition – the perfect gentleman khổng lồ sell top-shelf liquor. Hennessy partnered with creative sầu agency Droga5 to lớn produce the video clip, which coincided with the drink maker’s “Never Stop, Never Settle” campaign.

Why It Works

In addition to drawing a subtle yet striking comparison between Campbell’s spirit of adventure và Hennessy’s “Wild Rabbit” campaign (“a metaphor for one’s inner drive to lớn succeed”, according khổng lồ the article), the piece is genuinely interesting. The content’s inevitable hàng hóa placement is handled well, and it doesn’t feel gratuitous or tenuously positioned alongside the subject matter. Finally, the piece is as stylish as a regular Vanity Fair feature, which results in an engaging experience for the reader.

The Hall of Shame: Terrible Native sầu Advertising Examples

Now that we’ve sầu seen how the pros create sponsored nội dung, how about we point and laugh at some of the very worst native sầu advertising examples on the web?

"David Miscavige Leads Scientology lớn Milestone Year," The Atlantic

Although The Atlantic was quichồng to pull this disastrous foray into native sầu advertising from its site soon after it went live sầu, it will live sầu on forever thanks khổng lồ the fine folks at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, who decided khổng lồ permanently archive sầu it – presumably to lớn prsự kiện such a tragedy from ever happening again.

Now, aside from the boatloads of cash The Atlantic must have received for publishing this shameless advertorial, I can’t think of a single reason why shilling for what some describe as a dangerous cult in a reasonably well-respected national publication ever seemed lượt thích a good idea.

Yes, The Atlantic had the common sense lớn highlight (with a bright yellow tag) that this was “Sponsor Content”, but this did little lớn mitigate the damage. The publication was widely mocked in the mainstream truyền thông media, và this classic blunder is routinely used as the poster child for bad native sầu advertising examples.

"How to lớn Transsize inlớn a Total Nerd Babe," Gawker

I find everything about this nội dung – & I vị mean everything – utterly objectionable & completely offensive, from the vapid headline to lớn the clichéd copy. Unfortunately, that’s not even the worst part.

This “content” was originally created to promote the TBS reality TV show “King of the Nerds.” Aside from the tiny “Sponsored” tag toward the top of the post (highlighted above), there is nothing lớn distinguish this ad from the type of drivel Gawker usually publishes. After the promo was over, the editorial staff at Gawker couldn’t even be bothered lớn restructure the article to remain grammatically correct, & instead just deleted the name of the show (see the second paragraph). For shame.

Gawker (deservedly) took a lot of heat for this và its other native ads, which led the publisher lớn implement a new policy of transparency. These days, a native Gawker ad looks lượt thích this:

Not only is the agenda of this piece completely transparent from the outphối, the “Millennial work ethic” angle is so tired it’s practically comatose. Even the question posed by the article is ridiculous – no, Millennials will not “shun” offices, because most of them are saddled with back-breaking student loan debt & can’t find work. Oh, but if they do choose to shun the office, they can always use Dell hardware khổng lồ telecommute, right?

The only thing this native sầu ad has going for it is that it’s impossible to lớn mistake this ad for the Times’ actual editorial nội dung. It also appears that (as of the time of this writing) the Times has removed Dell’s other three sponsored posts, which I’m guessing is because the whole experiment was an unmitigated disaster.

Oh dear.

Native sầu Ads: More Than Meets The Eye?

Done well, native ads can be interesting, informative and sell a product or build a brand. Get them wrong, however, & your readers will hate you for it. Knowing how to strike this delicate yet crucial balance is difficult, but that hasn’t stopped publishers from jumping firmly on the native ads bandwagon. Only time will tell whether the FTC or other regulatory bodies will chime in on how these ads should be displayed, but for now, it seems likely that both brands và publishers will continue khổng lồ try & discover the magic formula.