Storytelling is an important way to convey a message. Abraham Lincoln used it very effectively as a vehicle to help people understand his ideas. Storytelling is also a piece of marketing. A big one. People flock to publishers like the New York Times to read its reviews, or 3rd party directories like Yelp, Google + and Angie’s List to read personal stories about businesses, services or products.
If what they read is good, that business likely has a new customer. Or, at least they’re in the sales funnel and it won’t take much to turn them into one. If it’s bad, adios. They’ll likely never have another opportunity to change that potential customer’s mind unless someone he/she really trusts, who happens to be a real-life friend, says otherwise.
So where is this going? 2014 is a year of change. Native advertising is a form of paid advertising where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. And it’s on the ascent.
Tried and true methods like Google Adwords (Pay-Per-Click) and display advertising are great and each has their core strengths, but they’re missing something: social approval. Google is attempting to solve this by allowing advertisers to include a review rating from an objective 3rd party site because they know social approval drives actions. It’s proven. 73% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more. That number is likely higher for recognized critics on prestigious publications (think Siskel and Ebert for movies all of those years).
Display advertising’s promise is to show the right creative ad to the right person at the right time. Sounds excellent in theory, but this has a ways to go before that lofty promise is achieved. The incredibly low CTR (click thru rate) still prevalent in the industry suggests that ads either rarely align with the customer’s interest while they are online, or something else is needed.
Which brings us to native advertising. This ultimately takes bloggers and content producers and has them tell a story about a product, service or brand, based on a real experience, which is then shared with a loyal audience that trusts their opinions. Examples of this would be if you have a restaurant that serves a few awesome dishes, having top food bloggers in your locale talk about how good it was – if indeed it was – on their blogs and socials, drives actions and purchase decisions.
If you’re a fashion business, then having influential fashion bloggers try your new product line and write about their experience can bring pre-qualified customers into your store or flocking to your website.
The next step – closing – is up to you.
That is the power of native advertising and we’re only at the beginning. Additionally, native also impacts other channels because now when that customer sees your ad in a banner or Google text ad, they will know and trust your company from reading about it on their favorite bloggers.
Authentic content + trusted sources + highly engaged audience = more pre-qualified customers into your business.
That’s a formula most can live with.