You’ve probably heard the term “native advertising” and wondered what the heck it is. When I first learned about it, I thought it had something to do with advertising to native people in their own countries.
The simple definition, according to Sharethrough, 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.
So when you see something like this…
it initially looks like a Buzzfeed article for beautiful places around the world.
But upon closer inspection, you’ll see that it’s really an ad for Pepsi Next. The piece seems like something that’s informative about scenic wonders (and it does have some really cool spots featured), but it’s really getting your curiosity piqued about this new soda. You’ll then click on the link, which takes you to the Pepsi Next Facebook page, where you’ll learn about how awesome this soft drink really is.
This is just one example of native ads. An excellent Copyblogger post goes into extensive detail about how this phenomenon can be done right.
And native ads definitely have their place in the marketing mix. According to the website IDMedia:
According to a study conducted by IPG Media Lab, consumers look at native ads 52% more frequently than banner ads. As a result of their integration with editorial, native ads registered a 9% higher lift in brand affinity and an 18% higher leap for purchase intent responses than traditional ads.
So how does this affect you as an adventure travel business? It’s just another tool in your marketing kit, and it especially fits well into the headlong direction for content marketing. Because of its “stealth” nature, a native ad fits almost seamlessly into your existing content. It’s not really something that is set aside as “sponsored content” or some similar label.
The same IDMedia article pointed out a campaign they did for Linblad Expeditions/National Geographic. This travel guide page of Antarctica looks like an informative article about this highly coveted destination:
But scroll down the page, and you’ll find short blurbs on different tours of Antarctica. Click on these links, and you’ll see that they’re ads in disguise…going native, as it were.
You will hear some people claim that native advertising will not last, according to this very cogent argument on the Content Marketing Institute website. Others posit it’s the next major online marketing trend and can’t be ignored.
Arguments hold on both sides. Perhaps the first opinion is acknowledging audiences are way too sophisticated to click on irrelevant and obviously Photoshopped pictures with outrageous headlines.
You know which ads I mean…the ones with an overly muscled freak of nature which then promises you something about a 0.002% re-fi on your underwater mortgage!
But I’m in the second camp, especially as someone who makes her living creating content.
I think that if you have poor examples like the really idiotic video clip ad on the far right of the Comcast homepage (the one below titled “You will not believe her transformation!”), that’s what’s going the way of the dodo bird.
If there were more examples like the Linblad ad, then I’m willing to bet my family’s farm back in California that native advertising will be with us for a while.