If you are suffering from the poor performance of your online ads, you are not alone. A recent report by Smart Insights found that the click through rate of an ad across most formats is only at 0.05%. In other words, out of 10 thousand people exposed to your ad, only 5 people will be bothered to click through—and let’s face it, with these numbers, it’s very likely that they clicked on the ad by accident.
When the first banner ad came up in 1994, the ad resulted in an impressive 44% click through rate. The very novelty of the first ad of this kind has worn off at a steady decline since. The decline of CTR for online ads is correlated to the rise in banner blindness, the term that is used to describe the steady and continuing decline of the performance of traditional online ads due to people learning to ignore disruptive banner-like advertising on the internet.
According to a study conducted by Infolinks in 2013, 86% of internet users have banner blindness and that number has most certainly increased ever since. The reason behind these grim CTR and the epidemic nature of banner blindness is because most users find banner ads to be infuriatingly disruptive, boring, and simply irrelevant.
If you are someone who relies on online advertising to generate sales for your business, these aren’t great figures. As marketers who rely on advertising to get the word out about products and services, we have to adapt to the numbers. More importantly, we must adapt to the preferences of our target market in order to circumvent banner blindness and to find new ways to connect with our audience once again. One of the ways that many online business owners are achieving this is through the help of native advertising.
What is native advertising?
We have all been exposed to native advertising and are familiar with it to some degree. Native advertising are paid ads that don’t look like ads at all. Instead, they seamlessly match the feel and the function of the content of the very platform in which they appear.
Native ads are unobtrusive, and since they match the content of the platform, they provide targeted valuable information to a specific target demographic. Since native advertising first came to the internet back in 2011, it has been a game-changer in the world of advertising.
You will find native ads spread out across your social media feed, on news websites, and other digital media entertainment sites. These ads are not pushed along the side of the web page, but are front and center, right in the middle of the action, looking like every other type of content you would normally be interested to look at.
This is the brilliance of native advertising, is that it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb to intrude upon the user, instead ads are placed seamlessly so as not to disturb users as they browse.
The key to the success of native advertising is that it is also a way to distribute relevant and informative content that is designed to engage and attract a target demographic without looking too obviously like an ad. You can tell if an ad is native when they have a small text above that says it is sponsored, otherwise, it appears to be a part of the website’s content.
According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s The Native Advertising Playbook, there are 6 types of native ads most commonly deployed to achieve native objectives:
1. In-Feed Units
You will be familiar with this type of ad from Facebook, Twitter, and many other platforms. These types of native ads are designed to fits seamlessly and unobtrusively between the content of a site or news feed. It is a discreet form of advertising, yet it attracts user attention, engagement, and usually has share-worthy content.
2. Paid Search Units
This type of native ad is commonly seen at the top of the search engine results page, as in Google search. These ads are the first few links you see on the SERP and they appear similar in format as the regular search results. The key difference is that they have an “Ad” label next to the website’s URL.
3. Recommendation Widgets
You will come across this type of ads from reading articles online. Recommendation widgets are found at the bottom of a page, where there are recommendations to articles from other websites. You will often see these types of native ads at the bottom of news websites as you would see from the CNN site.
4. Promoted Listings
This type of ad features products that are being recommended from ecommerce shops, often with the sponsored tag. You’ll see native promoted listings ads for online shopping on places like Facebook, Etsy, and eBay.
In-Ad native advertisements are standard ads found outside of the site’s main editorial section or outside of the main feed. They look like typical web ads, with the exception being that their content aligns with the content of the page you are currently viewing.
The IAB includes custom ads category for the ads that don’t fit into the above listed categories. This category is for the odd ends that do not conform to the popular classifications.
Does native advertising work?
Compared to traditional forms of advertising online, native ads are showing far better results. With Native ads, brands and advertisers find themselves with higher rates of customer engagement. Findings from a recent report conducted by Facebook has found that, with native advertising, consumer engagement was up to 20% to 60% higher than traditional banner ads. Native ads are outperforming banner ads by a long shot.
The reason behind this is that native ads have the additional function of providing valuable content to users. Because they add value, native ads are considered to be highly shareable ads, where some 32% of people report that they are willing to or have shared native ads on social media.
Today, we are seeing the biggest global shift in advertising since the emergence of TV run ads in favor of native advertising. It is been predicted that in the next 4 years, advertisers will transfer 25% of their dedicated marketing budget into native advertising. To put it simply, native advertising is gaining ground in terms of popularity and is showing better results in terms of the CTR for small and large businesses alike.
Benefits of native advertising
Since we have already discussed what native advertising is, its categories, and how well it works, let us now have a look at the benefits of using native advertising:
- Adblockers don’t work on them. The use of adblockers has been growing steadily over the years. In 2010, it was estimated that approximately 20 million people used ad blockers. Today, the number is ten times more, at 200 million. As the popularity of adblockers grows, so does native advertising. As we have previously mentioned, native advertising matches the look and the feel of the platform wherein it is being viewed, making it beyond the filtering reach of ad-blocking web browser plugins.
- They are relevant. With native ads, even though selling a service or product is the ultimate goal, they still provide relevant and educational content for its target audience. It is an ad focused on the customer experience. So long as the ad is relevant and interesting to the viewer, the target audience will remain engaged.
- Users don’t mind native ads. Marketers are leveraging online advertising tools that help specify and define demographics for better-targeted ads. Because native ads are usually targeted ads, they provide relevant content to their viewers. 53 % of web browsers reportedly look at ads that are native. When it comes to conversations, native ads also create 18% more in terms of purchase intent because they reach the right type of audience, through a medium that they enjoy, in a non-disruptive way.
- Users engage with native ads. Many users are perfectly happy to engage in native advertising, as long as the content remains relevant and entertaining. Native ads do well because they don’t interrupt the user's experience, which users can appreciate. If you want to attract more customers to your site, native ads have a way of attracting high-quality visitors with a high level of interest in your content. According to Sharethrough, users spend as much time viewing native ads as much as they view editorial content. All-in-all, native ads attract audiences with real interest.
- They are effective. Native ads generate a higher click through rate than any other type of online advertising. Because it is non-intrusive, it does not suffer in the same way as traditional advertising, which is being afflicted by growing rates of banner blindness. Today, native advertising is considered the ad format of choice for millennials, where native ads reportedly increase the likelihood of your target market completing a purchase by 38%.
Back to you
We have listed down only some of the benefits of native advertising and we have discussed how well native advertising performs compared to traditional banner ads. Native advertising works and it can become a part of your strong marketing strategy. If you aren’t already integrating native advertising into your marketing scheme, then now is the time to start.
How do you feel about the state of advertising today? Have you been thinking about integrate native advertising into your online marketing scheme? At Ecommerce Pro, we love to discuss the future plans of online businesses and share practical solutions to help you meet your online business goals. If you have any questions regarding this article, we would like to address them. Please feel free to begin a conversation with us today.