Advertising is going native. Integrated content tactics continue to play a larger and more influential role on capturing consumer attention. Native advertising integrates advertorial content alongside a website’s existing content, usually in ways that can be hard to detect by readers. It’s not uncommon that I will find myself reading a piece of content online and get halfway through it before I realize it’s a sponsored article or post.
Buzzfeed is the king of native advertising platforms. More than 700 advertisers use Buzzfeed to publish content, and native advertising packages can garner up to a $100,000 price tag. For many consumers, the quirky list posts with funny gifs and Vines created by advertisers are just as shareable as similar pieces of content written by Buzzfeed staff. And when it’s done well, many consumers like myself won’t see the difference.
Although the metrics for success on native advertising are still being hammered out, brands that use the strategy masterfully may see an increase in their brand awareness if the piece of content is particularly shareable and drives engagement. Or is that success moot if consumers don’t even realize that they are reading sponsored content?
Like many integrated marketing strategies, when used in the wrong context, both brands and the content platforms they are advertising on can see backlash against native advertising as the example of The Atlantic illustrates in this article from Mashable. The question is at what point does native advertising content cross the line for the reader in the context of their experience?