How Marketers and PR Reach a Wider Audience with Native Advertising

Getting B2B PR coverage is harder nowadays and if you rely entirely on earned media you could be making things even harder for yourself.

Written by Ian
Thursday May 11, 2017

Every PR professional will recognise that sometimes you can craft the perfect pitch and still fail to get coverage.

Getting B2B PR coverage is even harder nowadays because reporters often cover multiple stories and are inundated with requests for coverage that may mean they miss yours. On top of this, the pressure to deliver quantifiable results from B2B PR means you’ve got your work cut out!

And if you rely entirely on earned media you could be making things even harder for yourself. In this post, I explain how you can use native advertising to reach a wider audience.

The rise of native advertising

Native advertising isn’t new and has been around for ages. But not all marketers and advertisers are familiar with the concept, and therefore haven’t really entertained the idea. Online Marketing is constantly changing.

Advertising is no different and traditional banner ads are now being replaced by native ads.

Advertising is no different and traditional banner ads are now being replaced by native ads, which offer a better click through rate (CTR) and more leads and sales. Industry experts predict that 2017 may well be the year when native advertising will grow further, with more people and businesses waking up to its benefits.

Media and marketing professionals predict that native advertising is set to grow in the coming years. Eric Fulwiler, executive director at VaynerMedia in the UK, says he expects native advertising to go mainstream this year. And a Native ad report from Business Insider, predicts that native display ad revenue in the US will make up 21% of the total US display ad revenue by 2021.

A number of factors are likely to drive this rise in native advertising, such as publishers who need a new revenue stream to counteract the decline in traditional advertising. Brands also need a new way to reach consumers who are ignoring their adverts.

PR and native advertising go hand in hand

So, how can PR professionals gain from the rise in native advertising and why should they?

According to a 2016 survey of 75 of the UK’s leading PR agencies, carried out by The Internet Advertising Bureau, 90% of PR pros view native ads as an opportunity for them. As much as 75 % of the professionals who were surveyed went as far as to say PR should lead native ad programs. And why wouldn’t they?

The skills required for native advertising and PR overlap in many respects.

After all, the skills required for native advertising and PR overlap in many respects. PR professionals are well placed to create effective native ads by simply doing what they do best – make engaging content. Besides identifying a compelling story angle, both disciplines need you to be clear about what audience you are going after and via what publication you are best to reach them.

One of the challenges faced by advertising is being able to present your brand in a credible way that gains the trust of your audience. Since PR pros are in the business of managing reputations, they can make sure native ads are pitched at the right level to maintain brand credibility.

Some PR professionals may see native advertising as a rival to earned media but by being strategic, the two forms of coverage can complement one another. If you are struggling to get earned coverage in a particular area, for instance, you might choose to use native ads instead. B2B PR often involves reaching several decision makers and influencers, so you need to vary your approach if you are ever going to reach them all.

Native advertising could even be viewed as more credible because it requires full disclosure.

Just because native PR is paid for, it doesn’t have to represent a lesser form of coverage either. Native advertising could even be viewed as more credible because it requires full disclosure about the commercial origins of the content. Both the Federal Trade Commission in the US and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) in the UK have issued transparency guidelines for native advertising. This includes using labels such as ‘Sponsored Content’, ‘Paid For’ or ‘Brought to you by’, which all make it instantly clear to the audience that they are reading an advert.

Just because readers know it is an advert, it doesn’t mean they will instantly be turned off. Research by the IAB found that users are receptive to sponsored content if it is relevant, authoritative and trustworthy. To make native ads work for you, you need to work closely with your clients and publishers to ensure you are offering credible content that is presented in line with the latest advertising guidelines.

Here are some of the major benefits of using native advertising

If you are a PR pro looking to use native advertising, you need to have an honest discussion with your client about your budget requirements and the benefits of native advertising. You also need to choose your publisher wisely and understand their pricing structure to make sure you are getting value for money.

Then simply use your PR skills to be strategic about your native advertising and you could open up a whole new avenue of opportunities!

Over 75% of US publishers offer native advertising opportunities.

Still not sold on the idea? Here are some of the major benefits of using native advertising for both advertisers, publishers and PRs.

1. Customers Get What They Want
Consumers and customers dislike ads for a fair few reasons. They mainly see them as a distraction, or get annoyed with false information. That’s where native can step in and keep customers engaged, as they are more subtle than traditional display methods.

They are also more targeted. When people are browsing the web, they might not actually be looking for a new product or service, but are intentionally looking for entertainment or a solution to a problem. That’s where native ads step in and get on people’s radars. This is highly beneficial for publishers, since they’re in total control of what they promote, unlike other options where they don’t have much control over ads displayed on the site.

2. Easily Accessible for Everyone
Over 75% of US publishers offer native advertising opportunities, which makes it an incredibly accessible form of promotion. Any business, of any size, can advertise via different platforms, which levels the playing field for small businesses trying to compete with larger companies.

Native advertising is diverse with many different mediums, your business can reach out beyond the standard social media networks and connect with potential consumers you might not have considered.

3. Higher Engagement
Users are learning to ignore banner ads, which is why they have decreased in popularity over the years. However, users aren’t able to disregard native ads as easily because they blend so well with the content. They appear to be a part of the actual publication. Which is one of the biggest reasons to use native advertising.

Native ads are viewed 53 percent more frequently than display ads.

According to reports, native advertising is more engaging than traditional display advertising, with banner ads falling in popularity. So just how well is native advertising doing in comparison? Well, native ads are viewed 53 percent more frequently than display ads, providing a higher CTR (60 percent).

A user must be able to distinguish ads from original content to be able to understand the real call to action; otherwise CTR may decrease.

Native ads benefit publishers as well. It’s a known fact that users hate advertisements, especially a page that is full of big banners or pop-ups. However, since native ads blend in so well with the content, users don’t feel as distracted. And if done the right way, with a bit of transparency, they can result in low bounce rates and longer time spent on a page.

4. Native Content Gets Visibility
One of the biggest advantages of native advertising is the opportunity for more online visibility. By featuring sponsored ads on media sites and the timelines of average social media users, your brand is no longer restricted solely to your website or your personal Social Media following. If you are a small business, native advertising will give you the chance to expand your reach to more consumers.

Ever seen a banner ad shared? We certainly haven’t.

Ever seen a banner ad shared? We certainly haven’t. Since native ads are woven into content that is informative, it has a greater chance of going viral. People don’t usually share content that looks too promotional, whereas they happily share informational content.

Make posts interactive; encourage conversations, use calls to action, don’t be afraid to push boundaries and get the discussion going.

Fundamentally, it’s a huge opportunity. Publishers with access to native networks and can create, run and scale native campaigns themselves. This helps them build a closer relationship with their brand and agency partners. It offers a level of data analysis that ensures everyone knows exactly what they’re getting.

As featured on: Native Advertising Institute