Native Ads are Growing 39% a Year*, But 57% of Consumers Consider Them to Be Misleading

Digital changed marketing. But you already knew that. Something else you will already recognise is that the power has shifted from the brand to the consumer, and it is this power that has resulted in marketers having to adapt with the consumer, and be, well, where the consumer is.

Although not an entirely new concept (search marketing has been going since 2003), advances in technology has made it a whole lot easier for marketers to get their content in front of their audience, more recently through content streams…native advertising.

While the principle of brands funding their content isn’t new (think years of newspaper and magazine advertorials), what is relatively new, however, is the scale in which native advertising has evolved, and it set to continue growing.

Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and more recently LinkedIn, have followed in Buzzfeed’s footsteps, by enabling brands to promote their content within users’ content streams (i.e. LinkedIn sponsored updates, Facebook sponsored stories and Twitter Promoted Tweets). Embraced by the social media giants’ and with a 39% yearly growth, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to presume native advertising is the way forward for digital marketing.

While this may indeed be good news for marketers, it cannot be ignored that up to 57% of consumers consider native advertising, such as Facebook Sponsored Stories, and Twitters Promoted Posts, to be misleading. It has to be questioned whether this statistic is set to increase with the rise in native ads.

Analysts are suggesting that if brands and publishers aren’t careful, regulatory repercussions could be triggered, and they will have to face the FTC stepping in. Misleading consumers stems from creating and promoting irrelevant and inconsistent ads, which lack quality and transparency.

Self-regulation from publishers and transparency from the brand is crucial, as without it both the publisher and brand face a slippery slope, and marketers won’t be looking at a return on investment, rather a return to interruption.

Now to avoid throwing you into utter despair, the following tips should provide you with some guidance of how you can remain transparent through your native advertising tactics, and hopefully keep the FTC at bay…

1. Do not just self-promote. In some situations, you might not even mention your company. Native ads are not a press release. Think value. Give your audience something that they want, not something they will perceive as intrusive and irritating.

2. Effectively target the right people by using advanced optimisation tactics. Sites like Twitter and LinkedIn enable brands to target specific demographics, in order to correctly pinpoint exactly who your content will be exposed too.

3. Consider your keywords. While it is great that different demographics can be targeted, it needs to be considered that certain keywords used for one, may not be relevant or appropriate to another.

4. Keep it short and engaging. Execute and repeat. People need to be exposed to you over and over again before you make an impact. And remember, valuable content will result in you making a positive impact as opposed to a negative impact.

5. Do not pay for ads unless your content justifies it. Paying to share poor content will only reduce your influence and authority.