By Greg Keegan
Whether you’re browsing social media, shopping online or catching up on the latest news, chances are you’ve clicked on an ad disguised as organic content. Oftentimes, consumers will click on this type of ad, be brought to the host website and still not realize it was an advertisement. Known as native advertising, this type of ad allows advertisers to send a message in a non-intrusive manner by placing paid content strategically in consumer feeds without disrupting the user experience.
Native advertising mimics the layout and behavior of organic content on different platforms and websites. Its goal is to create ads that blend in, blurring the line between organic and paid content. Due to their non-disruptive appearance and placement, native ads are more difficult to ignore than traditional digital ads. Native ads can be created for a variety of platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo, YouTube and Instagram, where they appear subtly as a sponsored post, a sponsored tweet or a recommended video. Advertising platforms, as a whole, are moving towards this form of advertising because it helps maintain the user experience and does not distract from the flow of organic content.
Be aware of transparency policies.
Advertisers who are considering making a foray into native advertising should be aware of the transparency and disclosure policies enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Advertisers must include disclosure as a part of their native ads to prevent deception and unfair advertising practices. This ensures that consumers can decipher what is an ad and what is not. To meet this requirement, native ads should feature language that indicates the advertisement is paid content—such as “suggested post,” “promoted by” and “sponsored by.” Some platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, will tag your ads for you.
Be aware of possible disadvantages.
Despite its benefits, native advertising also has its disadvantages. Ad blockers are growing increasingly popular and serve as a direct opponent to native ads. Anyone with an ad blocker enabled on their browser will not see native ads on their feed due to the transparency and disclosure policies that require the ads be labeled. Google has built ad blockers into its Chrome browser, which also poses a threat to native advertising. However, Google ad blockers only block ads that violate their Better Ads Standards, which are decided on a site-by-site basis.
Using native ads.
There are a lot of benefits to be garnered from native advertising. For community banks, native advertising can be a powerful tool for reaching potential customers. By using this form of advertisement, banks can raise awareness within their target audience without having to directly sell them a product or service. For example, if your target consumers are first-time homebuyers and you have educational resources related to that topic, you can turn the content into native advertising to drive them to your website.
Facebook and LinkedIn are two robust platforms that provide a relatively simple way for banks to kick-start a native advertising strategy. Both platforms offer easy ways to integrate your messaging into newsfeeds and meet consumers where their attention is already directed. Effective native advertising will help advertisers to engage with consumers, drive attention to a product or website and add to the overall consumer experience.
Banks of all sizes can take advantage of this non-intrusive form of advertising. You can get started with the platforms you’re already using, and the content you have at hand, then evolve and grow your approach over time. As with any form of advertising, native ads have both their positives and drawbacks. Used properly and thoughtfully, however, they can add another dimension to your marketing mix and be less of a hard sell.
Greg Keegan is a digital media coordinator at Pannos Marketing based in Bedford, NH. Pannos Marketing is an award winning, full service communications firm specializing in strategic marketing, branding, digital marketing, social media, e-commerce and website solutions for financial institutions. Email:email@example.com. LinkedIn.