The Carrot Blog

The way people consume content has fundamentally changed. Due to its always on, streaming feed, social media has forced brands to become publishers. The problem is, the influx in content has taken its toll on publishers as well. The bar has been raised for users' attention and content must be really compelling and easily digestible. As a result, things like banner ads are rendered useless and publishers are forced to seek out new sources of revenue.

Compounded by the fact that brands have realized they don't have the resources or compelling content to be effective at publishing, publishers have quickly stepped in to create new revenue streams through native advertising. According to eMarketer, over 73% of publishers now offer some sort of native advertising on their site.

This is not a new concept; but, instead of feeling like a press release (as most advertorials do), the branded content resembles something much closer to in-line editorial. The brand's goal is to make the content feel natural to the site and, as a result, increase the likelihood users will click on it. The problem is with no set KPIs, how does a brand know if the post is a success? The content can generate plenty of impressions, but how many of those readers really make the connection to the brand? Most often the consumer just moves on with no brand recall. In some cases, the native advertising can even be detrimental to the publisher.

Another consideration is that advertising regulators are quickly trying to catch up with brands and publishers to define native advertising. The common approach by brands and publishers now is that it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission. As the boundaries of native advertising are pushed, both readers and regulators will begin to push back.

The bottom line is that in order for native advertising to be successful, it needs to fulfill the reason why brands turn to publishers in the first place: to produce original content that creates value for users and ties back to the brand in a relevant way. Avoid the cat videos and start by finding where your core consumer spends its time online. And remember, native advertising needs to feel... native.