People hear a radio commercial — they change the station. They see a commercial — they fast-forward their DVR. They see a social media ad – they subconsciously ignore it.
So how do you get anyone to pay attention to your ad? Don’t make it seem like an ad.
It’s called native advertising. As the name implies, it’s an ad that feels natural people. This way, your audience is engaged and exposed to your brand — without forcing it down their throats.
Why should you try native advertising?
The stats say it all. Almost all — 99.8% — of banner ads are ignored. Consumers don’t have to work to ignore these ads; it just comes natural. Oh, and up to 50% of clicked banner ads are done by mistake.
Native ads, on the other hand, are looked at 52% more than regular display ads. And companies are catching on to their importance. Spending on native ads grew 39% in 2012 and was estimated an approximate 22% growth in 2013.
Some of the most popular websites, such as Buzzfeed and the New York Times, are welcoming sponsored posts. Best of all for advertisers — native ads aren’t just limited to articles.
Here are three successful forms of native advertising — and how you can mimic each brand’s methods.
The native ad: Purina sponsored an article on Mashable titled “5 Heartwarming Stories That Prove Dog Is Man’s Best Friend”.
Why it worked: Mashable is best known for its tech news and its “X number of (insert practically anything here)” articles. And Purina nails the latter. The piece shares stories and videos of the sweetest pups — one who saved its owners life, one who mourned the death of its Navy SEAL owner, and three others.
By the end of the article, you’re in tears and more in love with your own dog. This article received more than 20 000 shares — meaning that Purina generated many impressions, without even mentioning dog food.
How you can do it: Make the ad indirectly related to your brand. This is an emotional, tear-jerking article that fills dog-lovers with warm, fuzzy feelings. Imagine if the article was about dog food — who’d want to share that with friends?
The native ad: Microsoft published a YouTube video titled “Child of the 90s/Internet Explorer”.
Why it worked: What’s more popular than 80s-themed everything? 90s-themed everything. “90s kids” love being reminded of their favorite Nickelodeon shows, the Oregon Trail video game and their pet Tamagotchis.
In this YouTube video, Microsoft reminds young adults that Internet Explorer can be added to the list of life-changing products that the 90s gave us. With more than 48-million views, Microsoft got its message across: “You grew up. So did we. Reconnect with the new Internet Explorer.”
How you can do it: Focus on the user’s experience as they read, view or listen to your native ads. Seventy percent of agency creatives feel that a user’s positive experience is the most essential aspect of native advertising. Create this positivity and it will likely rub off on your brand.
The native ad: Gatorade created a Pandora radio station for each of its G Series product.
Why it worked: Everyone knows about Gatorade — the drink that got Michael Jordan through the most intense games and Tiger Woods through countless rounds of golf. But at first, people had a hard time understanding why they should try G Series, which has separate products for before, during and after the game.
The company perfectly matched its message with the ad. Three Pandora radio stations were created for users’ warm up, workout and cool down. As a result, more than 485 000 stations were added by users and more than 519 000 hours of Gatorade-chosen music was listened to.
How you can do it: Match your product with your ad. It’s probably safe to say that many people who work out regularly have an interest in Gatorade and listen to music while they’re at the gym — so Gatorade provided the best of both worlds for them. Know what your consumers want and how you can deliver that in ad form.
Need some other ideas to help brainstorm for your own brand? Here are three others which almost beat the competition.
- Verizon — FourSquare teamed up with Verizon to target NFL fans. When fans “checked-in” on the popular app, they had a chance to win gear and seat upgrades from Verizon FiOS. This partnership was for three specific NFL stadiums, meaning that a potential 230 000 people could see Verizon’s name each Sunday — all while focused on winning freebies.
- Samsung — Galaxy smartphone users had the chance to receive a free copy of Jay-Z’s latest album thanks to Samsung. And they made that announcement with a three-minute commercial during an NBA playoff game. As a result, Samsung consumers are happy, non-Samsung users are interested and the company has generated more than 25-million impressions on YouTube.
- Under Armour — Pair up Tom Brady with the Will Ferrell co-founded site Funny or Die, and you’ve got an interesting sponsored video. The Patriot’s QB starred in an almost-3-minute comedic skit about an extremely creepy friend. In addition to laughing, viewers saw Under Armour’s logo at least a dozen times throughout. How’s that for impression generation?