Content Marketing

Plant The Seeds for Success in Native Ads

GuptaWhen you go to a grocery store these days, you’re more informed. It is a product of the age we live in; you can research where your vegetables were grown, and farmers and producers gladly extoll the narrative of the care and thought they put into what you are eating. There’s value in what they are selling, but there’s also something else at play: marketing-savvy.

I’ve written advice for publishers before, that Facebook and Twitter are eating your lunch, and what you can learn from their successful efforts in content marketing. My apologies in advance for presenting another food-based metaphor but publishers have something to learn from Whole Foods too. In native advertising, you own a premium product, and just like the grocer, you need to start presenting it that way to your clients.

If you’ve walked through the aisles of any grocery store lately, you’ll notice a distinct difference in pricing within the produce section. Organic products command a premium price – and they move. Those with the means to buy it and knowledge of its quality have zero qualms with the higher prices of organic products. But why?

To differentiate themselves, produce sellers market their wares appropriately. In the press and through their advertisements, consumers are aware of how organic food is grown and processed, that there is a strict criteria required to attain the label, and the health benefits associated with non-genetically modified, pesticide free food.

You want native advertising to persist as a premium product for your publication, you need to start marketing these distinctions and packaging your sponsored content as a complete product.

No empty calories.

Banner advertising isn’t dead, but it barely registers with readers – it just passes through their system, without any nutritional value. Historically, banners combined with a content marketing campaign helps branding and recall stick with a reader. Just like any unhealthy snack, your clients still want banners and your sales team still wants to sell what they know. So what’s the solution?  Use banners like snacks and mix them with a healthy meal of native advertising –packaging a robust campaign. The familiarity of banners may help the sales process flow easier,   and once a marketer sees how great content will even help the banner perform better, you will find them reaching for this health food by themselves. Brands like Starbucks and Budweiser have had great success with this “balanced-breakfast” approach.

A specialized custom product – not mass production.

Good native advertising is not factory farmed, it’s tailored to the brand’s values and speaks to the audience of the publication in which it appears. This is why BuzzFeed and HuffPost Partner Studio are market leaders, and newer entrants like Digiday Content Studio and National Geographic Creative Studio are following suit. They house seasoned journalists who know how to tell a compelling story – sticky content works, and a pre-populated network of hodge-podge stories is not going to provide that for brands.

As a publisher, you may seldom think of marketing as your forte, though your sales team will beg to differ. You leave the colorful descriptions of product to the advertisers and brands which purchase space in your papers and websites. Well it’s time to step up. In native advertising you own a premium product, and you have to protect and project that status if you want it to stay that way.

Kunal Gupta is CEO of native ad platform maker Polar and is regarded as a rising young visionary, shaping the future of media. Kunal has been recognized as a Top 30 Under 30, a United Nations Global Citizen and Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter: @kunalfrompolar

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