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If you’re in the content marketing game, chances are you’ve heard the term native advertising a time or two. For most people that’s all it is; a buzzword. They know it’s a particular kind of special advertising, one that’s supposed to be more effective than regular ads, but that’s really the extent. If you’ve been wondering why native advertising works so well, then the thing you need to know is that it functions sort of like the Trojan Horse.

An Ad That Doesn’t Look Like an Ad

The problem with traditional ads is that people are conditioned to ignore them. Whether you’re flipping through a magazine, watching TV, listening to the radio, or using a streaming program on your phone or tablet, when was the last time you actively sat down and watched an ad? Chances are that you flipped the channel, took a bathroom break, or that you’ve installed an ad-blocking program that makes it so you don’t even see banner ads and video commercials any more.

That’s where native advertising comes in. As OutBrain, one of 31 native networks explains, native advertising is sponsored content that looks and feels like regular content that would fit with the page it appears on. As an example, Pepsi might create a piece of native advertising that’s 12 unexpected ways you can use Mountain Dew in your home. That content clearly has an intent (get people thinking about Mountain Dew so they’re more likely to buy it), but the key is that it still has to function like any other article. In short, it needs to be able to stand on its own without the branding spin if it’s going to be considered a good piece of native advertising.

This isn’t a new idea, either. The concept of ads that look like articles, or which provide readers with useful tips and tricks goes back to the days of print media. It’s just that in today’s digital age, native advertising is getting a lot of fresh attention.

Camouflaged, But Not Invisible

When creating native ads it’s important to remember that you want them to blend in, but you don’t want them to become completely indistinguishable from the page they’re appearing on. It’s a fine balancing act, but native advertising needs to be labeled as such so that readers don’t feel they’ve been tricked into looking at an ad when they were really just curious about getting some tips for cleaning their house, boosting their garden, or the best places to go hiking in the Pacific Northwest.

Typically this means that native advertising content is going to be labeled as sponsored, or something similar to make it clear to readers that it is not just another piece of content. The label might be subtle, but as long as it’s there you’ve done your due diligence to make it clear that your native advertising content is still sponsored… even if it’s also a list of the top 10 ways you can get the most out of your savings account this year.

Finding The Balance Can Be Difficult

Perhaps the best way to think of native advertising is that it’s next-level content marketing, marrying the skills of creating useful, valuable content with just the right blend of advertising to get the audience’s interest so you can close the sale. It isn’t easy, though, and you can make mistakes if you’re not careful.

That’s why it’s important to have seasoned, skilled professionals on your side. If you need help making sure that your native advertising campaign is all that it can be, or if you just have more questions about what native advertising can do for you, learn more today!

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