Do you long for the days when your product could develop an audience naturally? Or when your content was the biggest driver in creating a following organically? Sadly, we no longer live in that world, and today you’re likely to hit a wall at some point with your organic strategy. In order to push through to reach wider audiences, you have to advertise.
Advertising isn’t inherently a bad thing. For the vast majority of us, it’s a fact of life: we know we will be advertised to when listen to the radio in our cars, when we turn on the television, when we fire up our computers and surf the Internet. The banner ads, pop-ups, and sidebar videos that play without our permission are often the frustrating offenders, mostly because they distract us from what we were originally trying to do.
Enter native advertising. If you haven’t heard of it, native advertising is simply a way of placing advertisements where they are most likely to be seen and least likely to be hated: right in the feed you’re scrolling through.
A native ad, by definition, is an advertisement whose look and feel matches the website on which it’s being hosted. Think of the sponsored ads that show up in your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feed—you know they’re advertisements because they say “sponsored” at the top of the posts, but if you didn’t see that word, you would just think it was another post, picture, or tweet that came up as you were scrolling.
And native advertising isn’t limited to social media; it also describes the ads in the middle of the article you’re reading—the ones you may eventually scroll past, but likely not without reading the advertisement first.
Still wary of native advertising and unsure if it’s right for you? Here are a few common myths surrounding native advertising, as well as a few counterpoints that may change your mind.
Myth #1: It’s Too Sneaky
Native advertising doesn’t always look like advertising at first, and it could be considered sneaky. But if your advertisement is hitting an audience who wouldn’t really buy your product anyway—i.e., not your ideal audience—it’s not really going to be sneaky at all. In fact, it will stick out like a sore thumb.
This means that the only way the advertisement is really “sneaky” is if it’s going exactly where it should be: in front of eyeballs that would typically consider your product. In that case, you’re just hitting your audience in a different way—in the content they’re already reading, and on the platforms they’re already using.
In fact, 71% of customers who viewed native ads felt that they personally identified with the brands shown in them. Instead of bombarding mass audiences with ads everywhere else, you’re targeting customers more effectively with products they may enjoy and appreciate.
Myth #2: It’s Ineffective
You might think that once people know something is native advertising (usually because of the word “sponsored” above it), they won’t pay attention. You’d be wrong. It turns out that consumers look at native advertising 25% more often than banner ads, and native ads increase their intent to purchase by 18%.
When the advertisement is already embedded into content that our eyes have already been trained to read and identify, we’re more likely to read through it instead of just glossing over it and moving on.
Myth #3: It’s Too Expensive
It’s true that major news outlets charge a pretty penny for native advertisements, but you can boost a post or sponsor a native ad on Facebook for as little as $5 to $10.
In general, native advertisements on social media will cost far less than a native advertisement in, say,The New York Times. Moreover, who says your audience is even going to be reading all these major news outlets?
Your best bet, in some situations, is to contact smaller, more targeted influencers: bloggers, niche publications, social media personalities, and others. Advertising with these folks is likely to be far less expensive, and your ads are also delivered to a much more targeted audience.
All in all, native advertising is not something to be afraid of, but it is an effective way to reach a targeted audience.
Don’t start advertising before putting together your buyer personas and figuring out where your potential customers live on the Internet, however. Once you’ve done that, the next best course of action is to get in front of your targeted personas where they are, as opposed to sitting on the sidelines and cheering with a banner ad or sidebar video.