Chad Pollitt is VP of Audience and Partner at the Native Advertising Institute. The former VP and Co-founder of Relevance, a digital magazine, agency and event company dedicated to content strategy, promotion and marketing, has a passion for native advertising. Here the Adjunct Professor of Digital Marketing at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business talked to Content Magazine about the difference between content marketing and native advertising, identified brands that have successfully used native advertising to increase their audience share, and gave his tips on how brands can implement an effective native advertising campaign themselves.
Content: What is the difference between native advertising and content marketing?
Chad: Well it depends on who you are. What I mean by that is simple. What it boils down to is this—content studios may say they are doing content marketing, but what they are doing is a form of content distribution, or native advertising. When a brand does content marketing, it is primarily creating its “own” media. They are creating content for their own platforms, and trying to attract an audience to that platform. If you go to any website anything on that site is branded content, by virtue of its logo being in the upper left-hand corner. When a publisher that sells long-form native advertising tells you they do content marketing or branded content—the fact of the matter is they don’t, they are offering brands access to their audience—this is a form of paid media, or a form of content distribution.
How do the two disciplines complement each other?
There are three ways to distribute content—owned media which can be broadcasted on social media, email and published on websites. Earned media or media outreach, where journalists cover your content, and the other channel is paid media. Now the thing with native advertising that is so exciting is that it is the perfect channel for top of the funnel content, for a brand to publish content that doesn’t sell anything. This is content that is helpful, has thought leadership, it tells the audience how to do something, it is content that someone would search for. This is where it really complements content marketing—it gives brands access to another audience that they ordinarily wouldn’t have/be able to attract. Realistically, there’s only a finite number of people online, and generally speaking they have their favorite websites they spend time on when they are on the internet, be it Facebook, The Huffington Post or New York Times, it’s the place they go to where they read what they want to read. What native advertising does is allow brands to tap into those audiences and make them your audience too. So, native advertising is used to help brands to incrementally increase their audience share.
How can marketers align their paid content distribution with the buyer journey? Are there tools/tech that marketers should use to make this happen?
I have identified over 350 native ad-tech landscape companies out there. Now a large chunk of those companies are programmatic—which means they use machine learning and AI. Some of those solutions will allow you to customize the content that you show to the individual, such as Outbrain, Taboola, AdsYouLike, for example. But some of those solutions also allow you to do story-scaping, where if a person engages with an initial piece of top of the funnel content, the next native advertising unit they will see on another website will be a middle of the funnel content. Now the technology is not yet perfect, but it works in a similar way to marketing automation.
Can you give me an example of a brand that has been successful using native advertising? What has it achieved?
There’s a lot of brands that have experimented with native advertising, but the one that stands out the most is Intel. Intel IQ is its online magazine and it has a very robust content distribution plan and strategy, and at the core of that strategy is native advertising. Intel has been able to grow its audience to a million visitors a month using native advertising.
Is this a big players game? Is this only for brands with big budgets? Is there an opportunity for smaller brands to get involved?
Larry Kim, the founder of WordStream, takes his top performing organic articles and spends $50–$200 promoting them using native advertising as well as on Facebook and Twitter. He does not target his “target audience”, instead he focuses on reaching out to journalists and bloggers that cover the topic that he writes about. His strategy is to use paid media, native advertising, to earn media. What has ended up happening is these journalists and beat writers have written articles about the content that he’s created, or they have reached out to him and asked him if he’ll write an article for their publication.
And finally, what tips do you have for implementing/improving a native advertising strategy?
You need to use the right platform for your business. There are over 350 companies out there, plus there are all the publishers out there doing long form—so, you have got to make sure you pick the right solution. The last thing you want is an ecommerce company using Taboola to push a product—because it will be a failure.
In addition, in a B2B setting, you need to understand what the average cost per read is in your industry. In marketing, the average cost of an inquiry costs a company $32 per inquiry, so if you are doing full throttle marketing and you’re tracking everything, you need to make sure your native advertising efforts are driving down your cost per leads below $32. This means you have to work hard to optimize native adverts over time to reduce that figure.