One of the most controversial topics in the world of marketing is native advertising. Some have called it deceptive but the reality is that many are trying it out. If you’ve never heard of native advertising, you put your money down to a news outlet that targets the audience you want to reach, and the outlet will create a great article or piece about you, your company, or your products. You’re basically guaranteed a great article in the outlet, as opposed to traditional media relations, where you have to pitch an idea to an editor or reporter and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get something published or how the outlet will portray your company. With native advertising, you know what you’re going to get, much like you would when buying traditional advertising.
There’s a degree of controversy around native advertising because it can be very hard to distinguish a native ad from a traditional piece of journalism. Some people perceive that there is a degree of deceptiveness in placing an ad that can’t be distinguished as such.
Despite this debate, native advertising is very popular and seems to be growing in popularity. Is this something that you should pursue for your own marketing?
A couple of things to consider:
1. Native advertising is very expensive.
It can cost tens of thousands of dollars if you place a native ad in a high profile outlet like the New York Times. For the same amount, you could pursue a tradition media relations campaign that targets a number of different outlets and targets a variety of audiences. The result might be a series of smaller-profile media hits but the net effect in terms of audience reach could be the same or better than using one expensive native advertising placement reaching one set of readers.
2. Can readers distinguish the difference between a native ad and journalism?
If people can see that the native ad is not in fact an independent media piece, the value of the native ad goes down. My sense is that the public is increasingly aware that native advertising is happening. The whole idea behind media relations is that a third party that is writing something that’s independent. If that independence is lost because you’ve paid money to have a piece created, then the credibility of that native ad goes down.
That said, if you want to get a piece in The New York Times, for example, or another high-profile media outlet, then native advertising might be the way to go. It is certainly growing in popularity, and it seems to be something that’s working for a lot of companies. That said, it is expensive and the credibility of the final piece might not be as convincing as a piece that hasn’t been bought.