What Elvis Doesn’t Know About Native Ads (But We Do)

Whether or not you’re jumping on the bandwagon, native advertising is in full motion. Big stories will appear this year on what works and what doesn’t. But before we get all shook up, let’s take a closer look at what native advertising represents to marketers and viewers in 2014.

What Elvis Doesn’t Know About Native Ads (But We Do)

What Is Native Advertising?

The goal of native advertising is to weave your ad content into the customer experience. In this case, we’re talking about the experience of social media platforms. What puts the “native” in advertising is when your content mirrors the look and feel of what users expect to see in their newsfeeds and timelines.

In a form of editorial alchemy, content and ads are fused together in a close bond. If done right, native advertising is a way to build trust and engagement with audiences using familiar surroundings and topics. This might sound like “contextual advertising”, and some have claimed that “native” is just a new buzzword for old tricks.

But the truth is that native advertising is a much needed refresher. It’s more involved, and represents a new way of understanding, analyzing and creating content for social media audiences. Native gives marketers a method of repeated exposure that loses the hard sell in favor of seeking engagement.

Is Native Advertising A Fad?

If there’s one trend from last year we’re most excited about in 2014, it’s the connection of business to big stories. When it comes to native advertising, brands have the potential to really get their stories across to wide audiences.

“Most digital ads in 2014 will be native ads,” says Socialbakers CEO Jan Rezab on his blog. “It’s a much more natural form of advertising, of blending content with ads,” he writes.

The longevity of native advertising will come down to best practice. Marketers who favor content with a little ad thrown in will do well, not the other way around. At the same time, analytics gives marketers rich perspective on the performance of their content—making it not only an art but also a science.

Jan also mentions that native advertising brings in a “targeting revolution,” with the ability to really take charge with custom audiences, and go after real engagement. The “newsfeed is tougher for conversion,” Jan explains, “unless you are very targeted.”

On the consumer end, what gets shared is content, not ads. This can’t be stressed enough. So the time has come for marketers to really get creative, and tell some great stories. Ads that sit dumbly on the side of the newsfeed—or blast onto the web page—are returning less on your investment.

What Do Native Ads Mean for Social Media Managers?

For social media managers, native advertising means full immersion in the real-time and tailored environment of social. Keeping content quality high, and with high return on investment, will rely on the command and budget of the social media manager.

This is especially true on Facebook, the priority network for many marketers. With the News Feed taking precedence, boosting posts will be even more crucial and time sensitive. The decision on what posts to boost will have to be informed and properly budgeted.

“All social media managers will have to understand (and optimize) paid media,” says Jan, and he urges managers to make sure their ad spend goes to the right places, is used effectively, and do their homework on targeting the right audiences.

The most successful brands will be those using insights to define their audience, or audiences, on each network. Today, data is the oracle behind your content strategy. If you haven’t been using analytics to study, segment, and target the right audiences time has now come.

And finally, this is the year things really get personal. I mean personalized. Think of it this way, social media requires a social form of marketing. Striking the right tone with the right audience is crucial to native advertising. Whether or not your content achieves the reach you’re looking for will depend on your ability to sell your values first, and your products second—earning familiarity and trust.

So ignore Elvis, in 2014 we need a little more conversation.

Stay tuned to this blog for more on native advertising, and expert tips on getting the most return on your social marketing.

Social Media Analyst

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