Can native advertising be scaled?

April 27, 2015Uncategorized

When it comes to the question of whether or not native advertising can be scaled, the answer is simple – and not, writes King Content’s Head of Native Advertising, Leanne Brinkies.

“Can native be scaled?” is one of the key questions I am asked constantly by marketers.

The simple answer is yes.

A more complicated and longer answer starts with “It depends… ”

What does it depend on, then? The answer is the type of native format you are using, how immersive you want your native execution to be, whether you are amplifying already created content or co-creating content with a publisher, whether you want traffic to go to your website or are happy with engagement on a publisher’s site, and lastly who your target audience is.

If you’re amplifying your own content, then scale is absolutely possible. Both newsfeed-style placements and recommendation widgets enable scale. The majority of these also enable you to drive traffic to your own website (if that’s your goal), while some place your content within their ecosystem, allowing the user to stay where they are.

Technology is driving the sophistication of this area of native, with contextual matching or semantic engines. The Washington Post made news this week with the announcement it will be recommending native articles to readers based on the keywords and phrases found in their reading history. A great idea! By understanding user behaviour, we can ensure native content is amplified to an audience that has shown an interest in similar topics. This brings together the drive for scale and the smarts to place it in front of the right audience.

This type of amplification, coupled with technology advances, is also driving the rise of programmatic native (where the automation principles of the programmatic ad world are applied to native advertising). It is still in its infancy in Australia, but growing and something to watch later in the year.

On the other end of the spectrum is the desire to co-create fully immersive native experiences specifically directed to an audience where engagement occurs on the publisher’s site. At this juncture I ask, “Is scale the right question?”

There are two parts to this.

Firstly, if you have a niche or specific audience you want to engage with via content, why do you need scale? What you need is a contextually relevant environment where you can engage with the audience directly. Great engagement with the right audience is ultimately going to deliver a positive brand experience and hopefully create a connection that will lead to consideration in the future, and bring prospective customers into your lead funnel.

The second part relates to the immersive experience. To create a truly immersive native experience (with articles, video, imagery, stats, polls, live interaction or infographics) that looks and feels like the environment it is placed within it is important to prioritise uniqueness. Native needs to tell a story to the audience that is truly representative of both the brand and the environment.

‘Unique’ does not (at first glance*) equal scale: it should equal engagement, connection and the creation of a conversation – the purpose behind a content marketing and amplification strategy.

Perhaps coming full circle to the initial question asked – “Can native be scaled?” – my asterisk above relates to the scale of the native partner or publication you are amplifying within. If you create a fully immersive native execution with sites such as the New York Times, The Washington Post or The Guardian, they are all going to give you the opportunity of scale.
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