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Having touched on the topic of native advertising a couple of months ago, I’d now like to turn to… well, native advertising.

The trend continues to rise and the case studies accumulate, and it’s hitting more and more of a nerve with consumers fed up of traditional, interruptive ads. So let’s dig a little deeper into what’s causing the upsurge, and how businesses can make the most of it.



Don’t do this

Cast your mind back to 1994. More specifically, 27th October 1994, when the first banner ad went live on hotwire.com and 44% of those who saw it clicked on it. Fast forward to today and banner ads are ineffective and, frankly, downright annoying; nowadays you’re lucky to get a CTR of more than 0.1%.

Intrusive ads just aren’t the way into consumers’ hearts. During our usual bedtime browse, we’re increasingly resentful of those annoying onscreen popups that obscure content, or even the whole page; background takeovers; ‘suggested content’; and the much-hated banner ad.

As we spend more and more time online and the ‘second screen’ becomes the ‘first screen’ (3 hours and 41 minutes are spent online per day, that’s 26 minutes more than we spent watching TV), not being interrupted is becoming incredibly important.

And that’s where native comes in. What makes something native? What are the rules? And more importantly, how can it be measured? The answers are a work in progress, but marketers are swimming in a sea of opportunity, which is both exciting and scary for all involved.

Consumers are tired of being shouted at. They’ve had it for the last 100 years, and it’s time marketers became smarter. Indeed, the IAB found 60% of consumers prefer digital advertising that focuses on a story rather than selling a product, highlighting the importance of storytelling in advertising and the power of emotional connections.

The key issue here is one of transparency. When it’s not so obvious consumers are being advertised to, marketers run the risk of leaving the consumer feeling misled and eroding brand trust. In the same IAB report, 41% of those surveyed recognised native material as advertising. This is a big issue for brands and marketers.

Last time, I shared a piece of great native advertising on the New York Times website for Orange is the New Black, but in many cases it doesn’t take such a considered approach. Have a look at The Atlantic’s native ad for The Church of Scientology for an example of how not to do native.

This ‘advertorial’ unashamedly peddled the achievements the controversial church had witnessed that year. The issue here, other than the brash nature of the article itself, is that there was no distinction between The Atlantic’s standard editorials and the sponsored article.

For other examples of good native ads one need only look to BuzzFeed – the vanguard of click bait articles. As a purveyor of the much-loved listicle, BuzzFeed is the perfect platform for nondescript articles for brands to express themselves and tell a story rather than sell a product (see Hellmann’s 17 hacks That Will Make Your BBQ Awesome or Oasis’ The 11 Most Irritating Types Of People On Instagram).

In short, we’re going to see a lot more of native advertising. It’s certain to evolve into something that is different to what we’re seeing today, but the similarities will be one of discretion and, for the format to survive, one of transparency and trust.

In Part I of our series on Facebook Custom Audience, my colleague Richard Potts gave an overview of the service and why it matters for brands and advertisers.

Today, I would like to tackle the enormous research potential offered by this targeting tool – one that many brands and advertisers have not fully utilized.…


Stay aHead: Imoji and Ultratext

by Sophie Hodges on 05 August 2014

Messaging is big business. With new personal messaging apps arriving on the scene all the time – WhatsApp, Viber and WeChat to name just a few – it can sometimes seem as if the default software is falling short. However with a slew of new apps which allow users to create customised content for their messaging conversations, the default messaging apps have a new weapon in their armoury.…


Facebook Gifts no longer available

Last year, Facebook dealt a blow to its Gifts option, by removing the option of users to give physical gifts to others, in place of only offering gift cards. Facebook confirmed earlier this week that it was shuttering the Gifts option completely, and made a statement saying that they will use the learnings gathered from offering this service to help businesses drive sales from Facebook.…


Inspiration: Go on, borrow a cup of virtual sugar

by Hermione Wright on 01 August 2014

I have no idea who my neighbours are. I’ve lived in the same place for six months now and nothing so much as an awkward ‘hi’ has been muttered from either side (I’m just as bad as them).

Back in the olden days (I’m talking pre social media and 24-hour Tesco Express), did people actually pop to each other’s homes and ask to borrow a cup of sugar?…


A Custom Audience is an ad targeting option available through Facebook which lets advertisers connect with a brand’s existing audiences. This targeting option leverages the power of CRM data to find Facebook users who have previously interacted with a brand. It enables advertisers to reach qualified leads on Facebook, precisely segmenting this audience by CRM data, pages visited or by any of the ad platform’s standard targeting options (age, gender, interest etc).…


Stay aHead: Poke, Slingshot and Bolt

by Sam March on 29 July 2014

When you have as much money as Facebook, dealing with competition is normally quite simple: “if you can’t beat them, buy them.”

When Instagram started to become the photo-sharing phenomenon it is today, Zuckerberg dropped a casual $1 billion for the platform.…


Facebook increases share of social logins

The social media giant Facebook has made another stride to ensure its users won’t be deserting the site any time soon. With the implementation of new login updates, the company now has a substantial 55% hold amongst all social logins (up from 52% in 2012).…


3D printing. A concept that only a few decades ago would have seemed ludicrous, is now set to revolutionise the way we live today.

Eco-friendly, a cure for cancer and a functioning 3D-printed kidney. The rise of 3D printing has been heralded as the “Second Industrial Revolution” , and it has the potential to impact our lives in a similar way

3D ‘Bio’-Printing

“Imagine being able to walk into a hospital and have a full organ printed – or bio-printed, as we call it – with all the cells, proteins and blood vessels in the right place, simply by pushing the ‘print’ button on your computer screen?” envisages Dr.


Point of view: Going back 50 years to face the future

by Roberto Estreitinho on 24 July 2014

Each year the social media industry asks itself a new set of questions. In 2009 we wondered if it was a fad. In 2010 we debated what we should say. In 2013 we stood for all things ‘real time’.

This year we’re finally taking steps to talk about actual, proven business value.…