Marketers are getting even better at creating unique and compelling native advertising experiences, proving that the highly effective ads aren't going anywhere anytime soon. The reasoning is simple. Native advertising gives readers what they want: content that's valuable, sharable, and not distracting or annoying. In most cases, the ad doesn't even feel like an ad because it's something we would read or watch regardless. And that is why, though native ads will continue to shift and evolve, they're here to stay.
Here are 7 platforms doing interesting things with native advertising campaigns:
Spotify wants to hit $1 billion dollars in revenue this year and part of the way they're doing that is by creating apps sponsored by big brands. One of the first participants? AT&T. AT&T's "Surround Sounds" app allows users to view maps that show where songs were written, recorded, or performed, and create playlists based on regions. Other brands were quick to follow and now you can create a workout playlist using Reebok's app or find out what your Facebook friends are listening to via Intel's "Sifter" app.
That's right: Tinder. Native advertising probably isn't the first thing you think of when you think of this popular "speed-dating" app, but Tinder recently decided to mix things up for its users. Those look to meet new people are now encountering profiles for a doctor named Mindy and an "Italian stallion" named Danny. If they indicate they're interested in either of those two people, they receive a message to "tune-in to PROJECT this Tuesday." So, no, they can't actually date Mindy or Danny, but it's a quick and easy way for FOX to promote "The Mindy Project" to a demographic they might otherwise have a difficult time reaching.
The New York Times
At the beginning of January, the New York Times launched a redesign of its site that caters to native advertising. The first sponsor? Dell. In an effort to be incredibly transparent, the New York Times may have gone a bit overboard, but the distinct blue box labeled "Paid for and Promoted by Dell," the "paidpost.newyorktimes.com" URL, the disclaimer on the bottom of the page, and the logo next to the author's name make it very clear that the content is sponsored. This might be a turnoff to some advertisers who want their content to feel a bit more integrated, but it makes sense that the New York Times approached native advertising with caution. And regardless of the wrapping, we've quite enjoyed the articles like "Will millennials ever completely shun the office?" and "For women entrepreneurs, mentors help bridge the gap."
Buzzfeed is a site that consistently does native advertising well. The reasoning behind why is simple: they're giving users content the users would consumer regardless of sponsorship. Who doesn't want to click on a headline that promises to show "10 Beautiful Places in the World That Actually Exist?" All the better for Pepsi NEXT who gets in on the action with a little copy promoting their brand. " You've got to see these places to believe them. Just like Pepsi NEXT, you've got to taste it to believe it.
The Los Angeles Times
One of the issues for brands that create great content on their own is putting it somewhere people will actually see it. Remember microsites? Exactly. The Lincoln Motor Company recently created a super cool Aloe Black video that lets you interact by "choosing your own adventure" and switching back and forth between storylines. They opted to put the video and an accompanying article explaining how it works on a page of the L.A. Times that looks and feels like a non-sponsored article, except for a small logo. While the connection between Aloe Black and Lincoln isn't clear, the fact that they spent advertising dollars on something this innovative should give them the street cred they want.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
Users love to complain when they see ads in their feeds, but let's be real: these companies don't just exist to give us something to do while we're on the toilet, they also need to make money. Sometimes the native ads on Facebook can be a little creepy since they're tailored to your browsing habits, but they also work to remind you that hey-you were really interested in those running shoes on Zappos last week. Think you might want to go ahead and buy them now? Twitter and Instagram aren't quite as tailored, but, for the most part, their ads are aren't intrusive and can provide value-even if it's just in the form of a pretty picture or funny video. And ultimately, even though the first-ever sponsored post on Instagram from Michael Kors was controversial to say the least, Michael Kors gained 34,000 followers in just 18 hours as a result.
Okay, so we're a little biased, but it just wouldn't be right if we wrote an article on native advertising and didn't do some native advertising of our own. (Meta!) Truthfully though, what we really love about native advertising is that it can be tailored to fit on almost any platform and we've seen huge success for advertisers who sponsor content on sites across Say Media's platform. Whether it's a photo essay for Buick on Gear Patrol, a moving post on about working dogs on Dogster sponsored by Dentastix, or one of our recent favorites: a Charmin-sponsored video featuring xoJane editor-in-chief Jane Pratt and her adorable daughter, we're proud that our influential media brands are able to help advertisers get their messages across to deeply engaged and loyal audiences.