When asked how to define native advertising, about 49% of one study's respondents replied with a resounding "Ummm..."
So you too don't fall into the "don't know" category, we've come up with this quick primer on native advertising, otherwise known as promoted or sponsored content. Ready to boost your b2b marketing performance?
Let's do that. We'll start off with a clear definition of native advertising and how it benefits you, round second base with a couple of examples of great native advertising, and head for home with a roundup of where you can look to begin your own native advertising campaign (and how much it will cost).
What is Native Advertising and Why Should You Consider It?
Native advertising is defined by Sharethrough as:
"Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed."
If that still seems confusing, think about the last time your read your favorite print magazine. You likely were reading along in what you thought was the next article, until you saw the tiny writing at the top of the page that told you the story was an advertisement.
That's native advertising. It's when the ad blends seamlessly into the surrounding content. So much so that the reader has to pause before realizing that it's not written by a staff member. In many cases, the reader may not realize it at all.
That can be a tough row to hoe. You don't want to be accused of tricking your audience into reading your content; at the same time you don't want to interrupt the flow of the page like an intrusive advertisment would.
Best rule of thumb:
Clearly state that the piece is sponsored.
So what are the advantages of native advertising?
- Your content has a wider reach. Maintaining a blog on your website is certainly important. However, what if you could create content that reaches hundreds, or even thousands more readers? Wouldn't that be valuable?
- You provide your readers with an authentic learning experience. When visitors click on your site, it's a given that you'll try to win them over. They may approach your content with a little more caution. However, native advertising inadvertently provides a third-party endorsement to the validity of your content.
- Shares are increased. With a larger readership comes a greater chance that your content will be shared.
- Native advertising effectively reaches Millenials. A large percentage of Millenials catch up on the daily news via sites like Huffington Post and Buzzfeed. By placing your content within these sites, you're able to create an organic advertising experience.
So does that mean that PR, also now known as earned media, goes by the boards? Of course not. But sometimes if you want to reach a particular audience consistently native advertising may be the way to go. A media outlet, for example, is not going to give you free editorial reign to pontificate while a pay-for-play opportunity may.
Companies Successfully Using Native Advertising in Their B2B Marketing
Teradata is a big data company that knows its audience well. As you see in the above example, Teradata features its advertorials on ForbesBrandVoice. It's using a platform that its prospects respect and turn to for insight.
The layout clearly blends with the Forbes platform, and you could likely see yourself reading along before realizing that the content is sponsored.
Additionally, upon clicking on the featured post, you'll notice there is no direct call to action within the text. Rather, they display their own banner ads above and to the side of the post, along with other advertisers' banner ads.
Delux showed up in my LinkedIn feed. They present business solutions ranging from logo designing, to its more commonly known service, checks.
What makes this a successful native advertisement?
It shows up among other posts that have been created and liked by trusted and respected colleagues and business contacts.
It's much like someone who shows up at a party and starts chatting it up with you and your conversation circle. Everyone assumes they're not a party crasher, and someone here must know the person. Therefore, an element of trusted is created.
It's not difficult to see why native advertising works for B2B marketing. It's like sending your sales person to a potential client's dinner party to casually look for leads, rather than cold-calling the office Monday morning.
Native Advertising Options for Your B2B
No doubt many native advertising opportunities exist. To get you pointed in the right direction, here are some of the more common platforms and, where possible, prices for native advertising.
For around $100,000, Buzzfeed will create and manage four or five posts for you. Lower budget options start at $5,000, with a minimum total expenditure of $50,000. Readers will be directed to follow your brand on Facebook or Twitter.
Forbes is typically the gold-star native advertising platform for B2B audiences. It launched the Forbes Brand Voice allows brands to create unlimited content for $50,000-$75,000 per month for a minimum of three months. Banner ads are also included.
Brands like SAP, Dell, and Intel are regulars on the platform.
3. Business Insider
This is a significantly less expensive option if you only want to create one piece of content. For $5,000-$15,000, BI will either use its creative team to develop your post, or will collaborate with you to achieve a desired outcome.
Big brands, such as IBM and SAP are known for promoted content on BI.
Complex offers the advantage of running your content across a network of 95 websites. It will cost you, though. A few posts are going to run you about $250,000, while an annual deal may be as much as $7 million.
Brands like Foot Locker and Pepsi are known for collaborating with Complex.
Perhaps the most sought after platform for B2B native advertising is LinkedIn. Instead of paying a hefty price up front, businesses pay per click.
One company boasts that its average cost per lead through LinkedIn native advertising is about $47. Not bad, eh?
LinkedIn may be one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to generate leads using native advertising in your B2B marketing.
To begin with, I always recommend establishing a strong LinkedIn presence before you set up native advertising.
The first step is creating your LinkedIn company page. Now, there's a bit of a science to it. Curious?
Go ahead and download my latest ebook, How to Create the Perfect LinkedIn Company Page. You'll learn all about how to use killer graphics, write stellar content for your page, and you'll get a few pro tips along the way.
So now you know what native advertising is, what it should look like, and how you can have a share in this lead generation tool!