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3 Keys to Successful Native Advertising

Native advertising isn't a new concept. It refers to the integration of a brand message into a familiar piece of media or user experience by adopting the advertisement's form and function to match.

Sound familiar? It should. Print media has been using this practice for ages with pieces such as advertorials. But native advertising has been experiencing a new wave in the digital media space during the last few years. In response to challenges such as viewability measurement, ad fraud and ad blocking, media publishers have been providing deeper and deeper integration opportunities.

While many brands use forms of native advertising, not all of them do it effectively. So what does it take to create a truly engaging native program that will drive results?

1. Authenticity.

Whatever you need to say, make it genuine, useful and credible, so that you can keep your audience engaged and interested.

-If you're a tool manufacturer, post a video on DIYNetwork.com about table saw safety.
-If you own a fitness center, share a list of workout tips on Health.com.

I've seen plenty of poorly designed native programs, and they usually all have one thing in common: the content isn't relevant. If I'm looking for a Smart TV, I don't want to see a car insurance ad — even if the ad has the same look and feel of the site I'm visiting. Although the ad might meet the technical definition of "native," the execution is deceptive and can weaken trust in the brand.

2. Precision.

Understanding exactly who you're trying to reach is critical for building a native program that will perform.

Sure, native ads will only work if you know your audience's needs and motivations, along with the problems you should be solving for them. However, you also need to know where to find them. This is where media strategy, research and planning come into play; the same basic rules apply here for native, just as they do for any other type of media planning. The only difference is that, with native, when you find your audience, you're giving them a truly engaging experience with your brand.

3. Flexibility.

In the world of native advertising, you have no choice but to relinquish some control over the look and feel of your ads.

Your typical ad might need to be altered to represent the design and functionality of the site on which it's placed — but it's generally worth the sacrifice. Remember, the consumer is probably not there to see your ad or hear about your brand; they're there for the site's content. But, if you can contribute to that experience in a meaningful way with your own content, then you'll organically strengthen your brand message.

To deliver a great native advertising experience, you need to be authentic, you need to know where to be and you need to be adaptable. Do more than piggyback on other strong content. Show your audience how your product or service closely matches their lifestyle, gives them something of value and fulfills their desires. When it's all packaged in the form of a website's already-existing content, your message can be that much more influential and lead to the best end-results of all: new customers.