Native advertising isn’t new. But with the advent of digital and inbound marketing strategies, like blogs and social media, it’s going through changes. For more than a century, advertisers have understood the power of posting ads that look like the non-ad content which surrounds them, from posts that mixed ad and editorial content to sponsored radio programs to infomercials.
Over the past several years, native advertising got a substantial boost as digital media companies like Mashable dropped banner ads in favor of sponsored content tailored specifically to their target audiences. As more traditional news outlets like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times followed suit, marketers began to understand the full potential of native advertising.
The Rapid Growth of Native Advertising
The exponential growth of native advertising and influence marketing is a tribute to its effectiveness. In one recent survey, 75% of publishers reported the use of native advertising on their sites, and 81% of surveyed marketers planned to boost their brands through native ads. According to research from BIA/Kelsey, almost 40% of total social media ad spending now goes to native ads.
For forward-thinking marketers, the question is no longer whether to spend on native advertising, but rather the best way to do it. Here are 5 steps to ensure your native advertising campaign is successful:
1. Choose the Best Influencers
The best influencers for your business are the ones who can push their followers from awareness to action. And they’re not necessarily the ones with the most followers. They’re the ones whose followers are most likely to take that action by purchasing your products and services.
In other words, rule number one for selecting influencers is relevance, context and engagement. Begin by clearly defining your ideal influencer. For example, you might want recognized experts in your industry whose opinions will sway prospective customers. You can find the influencers you’ve defined by using social media filtering tools, like hashtags. Or you can use Influencers search engines and contact platforms such as Upfluence. Now, reach out to these influencers. Encourage them to create custom content with appropriate incentives, ranging from product discounts to payment for great blogs.
2. Calculate Value and Pricing
The value of a sponsored article is related to several factors, one of which is the extent of influence. According to research from Hubspot, that influence can be assessed based on factors like domain authority, the number of fans on Facebook, ranking in Alexa and search ranking. For example, a blog with 25,000 Facebook fans, domain authority of 55, Alexa rank of 1.5 million and a page rank of 4 is worth $342. Be aware that the value of an article also depends on the type of content (for example, a comprehensive study in a B2B blog will cost more than a B2C article about a product launch) and the industry for which it’s written (e.g., fashion blogs are more expensive than veterinary blogs).
Example of a Sponsored Article for Victorinox, with associated stats & cost. Native Campaign executed by Upfluence
3. Supervise Content Creation
It’s important that writers understand your native campaign and its objectives. Avoid imprecise instructions, like “I need an article about e-commerce.” Clearly state your goals, describe your business and clarify the nature of your audience at the outset. You can also provide sample blogs and outlines to further articulate your expectations. With Upfluence, you can save time by using the workflow feature, where you can easily manage and comment on the content produced by your influencers. Above all, to ensure you connect with the audience you’re targeting, impress upon your bloggers that they should write blogs in their own voice, not yours.
4. Amplify Exposure
It’s not enough to simply have articles published on the blogs you partner with, or on your influencers’ most popular social media channels like LinkedIn and Facebook. Your content needs to be amplified. You can start by using a content recommendation platform (like Outbrain) to broaden exposure. You can also expand your audience with smart amplification strategies, like introducing articles through SlideShare and posting them on smaller networks, like Quora and Tumblr. Consider increasing audience exposure even more with a well-crafted paid search strategy.
Articles can be amplified on major news sites (CNN, ESPN,…) via Outbrain
5. Measure Results
You can’t improve the performance of your native campaign without the best metrics to measure results. That includes both editorial metrics, like clicks, shares and total subscriptions and links to your blog, as well as business metrics, such as visits, Cost per Click (CPC), leads, Cost per Lead (CPL) and Return on Investment (ROI). Be sure to track links effectively using UTM or another accurate link tracking system.
You can find a Influencer Marketing service with dashboards available to monitor campaign results overall and per article. This one is from Upfluence
Although native advertising isn’t new, its emergence as a linchpin of content marketing strategy is. The good news for marketers is that there are experienced service providers who can help with innovative content creation and distribution strategies. If you’re planning a native advertising campaign, we’d love to help. For more information, contact us today.