4 trends for native advertising in 2014

Posted by: Robin Bonn, Business Development Director, Seven

So another year passes and another piece of shiny new jargon goes stratospheric. Last year it was content marketing, this year it's been native advertising. So what does 2014 hold for native ads?

  1. Native advertising will be clear or be gone. The marketing world needs many things, but yet more new terminology is not one of them. So practitioners of native advertising need to establish a very clear and simple definition – not just what it is but, more importantly, what it does. It's time to get past the semantic debate about sponsored content vs. advertorial, whether it's new or just emperor's new clothes and woolly criteria such as 'looking like editorial' or 'seamless user experience'.
  2. Brands will bring native advertising into their wider content strategy. If content marketing is about delivering on a brand promise, using longer formats to let a brand's voice be useful and entertaining alongside the harder sell of advertising, then native advertising should be considered part of a brand's content strategy. Native advertising is already rich and varied but, beyond the videos, articles and infographics lies a world of owned media, from websites, social and mobile, to email, print and face-to-face – all equally important in helping a brand deliver on their promise, wherever and whenever people look for them. So despite research from the Direct Marketing Association and Content Marketing Institute showing that while 88% of UK marketers use content marketing, only 42% actually have a content strategy, if brands are serious about content, then 'going native' and speaking directly to a ready-made audience should certainly be part of the plan.
  3. Publishers will get with the programme. The mythical 'church and state' distinction (© every Slideshare ever on native ads) between editorial and commercial prerogatives, will continue to fade. As Forbes Media's Chief Product Officer Lewis DVorkin neatly states, today's consumers are quite adept at 'separating the meaningful from the mush' – in other words, if it's good, it doesn't matter who wrote it. So if you're a publisher and you want to exist, it's time to get with the programme.
  4. Bring in the specialists to think longer term. Publishers are getting better at selling native advertising to brands and media agencies alike. The audience stats alone are compelling, but add in social engagement, rich data insights and, according to the Huffington Post, an ever-more receptive audience, and the proposition becomes even more interesting to advertisers.

But neither publishers nor clients are particularly adept at creating compelling native advertising – the former don't have the brand savvy, the latter aren't editorial specialists. Renewal rates for native ad spend are buoyant for now but, once the quality of content drops, audiences will leave in droves.

Seven created all of the Guardian's native advertising for three years – creating content for brands, at scale, at speed, with a nimble, consultative approach. In short, building any audience takes specialists, and native advertising is no different.

Posted by: Robin Bonn, Business Development Director, Seven

Posted in CMA blog
15thJan 2014

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