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Do you remember learning about mutualism in science class? If the term isn’t clicking, clearly your 4th-grade science teacher didn’t do her job (just kidding to all the science teachers out there).

Mutualism is any relationship where both individuals (in this case concepts) benefit in some way. If you’re wondering why I’m giving you a science lesson (don’t worry I have a point) it describes the relationship between native advertising and content marketing.

Native Advertising

Up until now, native advertising has been hard to define. If you google the term, you’ll find a bunch of fancy definitions that may be scary and confusing. To make things more transparent, native advertising is basically paid editorials. It’s a form of advertising that consists of relevant, valuable content that’s part of a media outlet’s editorial offering.

Now what makes native advertising different than traditional advertising? Isn’t native advertising a fancy way of dressing up the term advertorial? No, native advertising is not advertorial! Native advertising adds value to any page it lands on by improving user experience and adding value for customers

Native advertising puts high-quality content into the organic experience of the given platform. Unlike traditional ads that pop-up out of nowhere, it isn’t interruptive. While it is selective, it isn’t a guarantee that the content is always going to show up to the right audience.

Like sports, a good offense is a good defense. If you want to be successful with native advertising, you need to have a strategy on how to execute it.

Have your communications team establish long-term content strategies. By doing this, you are laying the groundwork for how you want to proceed. Another good idea is to expand your team. By adding new creatives you are helping with content creation. It’s okay to ask for help! Sometimes you need to bring in a creative team or a content marketing agency to ensure success with native advertising.

Challenges of Native Advertising

Like most things in life, there are challenges when using native advertising. But if you are aware of these obstacles, you can make it work for you and your business.

  • Ad Standards: There aren’t a set of standards or performances that are in place for this new form of advertising.
  • Product efficiency: Unlike traditional ads, this type of advertising requires creative management to create the best user experience possible.
  • User trust: Businesses can maintain trust by creating content that adds value and making sure it is also transparent; native advertising is sort of like disguising ads, so make sure you engage in full disclosure.

Some Examples of Native Advertising

Just this morning I was scrolling through my twitter feed and I stumbled across a tweet for the Gap. First I was baffled, I don’t follow the Gap so why is this showing up on my newsfeed. But after reading the little line that said “sponsored tweet” it clicked.

Lucky for the Gap, I am a sucker for any type of clothing deals and I clicked on their link to see what other summer dresses they had online. Twitter isn’t the only place that openly promotes or sponsors ads. You can find them on Facebook or StumbleUpon with their paid discoveries.

  • In-Feed/Social: This is all the sponsored content you see on Twitter, (like the Gap ad I mentioned) Facebook even Pinterest.
  • Recommended Content: When you go to a blog post or article and at the bottom there’s all this relevant content to click on.
  • Paid Reclusion: This is where you are paying a site to run your content. An example of this is when “The Atlantic” was paid by the Church of Scientology to run an article about the religion.

This kind of advertising is natural content that appears in a medium’s organic content stream – with the notice that its placement was purchased and didn’t appear organically.

There are skeptics of native advertising who urge people to use caution on totally abandoning traditional advertising. Not to throw caution to the wind, but native advertising is the only type of advertising that works for companies who place a high value on user experience.

Content Marketing

Hopefully, your brain isn’t on information overload from everything I threw at you.

Content marketing is a really important concept that native advertising benefits from. So if you want to create killer native advertising you must learn all about content marketing.

Content marketing essentially provides helpful content. Content can be anything from blogs, white papers, eBooks, case studies, videos, podcasts or print materials.

In order to be good at content marketing, you need to master the art of storytelling. I don’t mean gather everyone around a campfire and tell ghost stories. I mean that your content needs to tell a story by appealing to readers’ ethos. The goal is to attract leads and keep customers coming back even after they click purchase.

The goal of this type of marketing is to get the conversation started about your brand or product, kind of like when you want something from your parents, you need to make it seem like it’s the customer’s idea.

People don’t like when you talk about yourself and it’s the same thing when it comes your brand or product. Your content needs to be a resource; be helpful to your audience in some way.

If you create content that is useful and educates your customer, the outcome will be returning customers. This is a plus for you because creating a loyal customer-base allows you to spend more time finding prospective leads.

The takeaway here is, quality over quantity. If you’re creating content for the sake of having more content, people aren’t going to come back to your business. Generate content that is consistent, relevant and helpful and you’ll have more success.

Challenges of Content Marketing

Content marketing can either be a huge success or a huge flop. Here are a few challenges you may run into when using content marketing, but if you’re aware of your situation hopefully these will be a guideline of how to make this marketing tool successful.

  • Find a balance: This may sound redundant, but I promise it’s important! Quality over quantity. Don’t just create content for the sole purpose of having more (this isn’t like your collection of Beanie Babies!)
  • Successfully share content: The goal is to have your content shared on social media platforms. If you are creating quality content it speaks to the relevancy and merit of your business.
  • Personalize content: Just like one-size hardly ever fits all, your customers aren’t always going to fit in the same categories; create content that speaks to different parts of your audience’s experiences and make it accessible from any device.

How Native Advertising and Content Marketing Go Together

Now that I’ve hopefully informed you of what native advertising and content marketing are, you’re probably wondering how do they benefit from each other? Earlier I said that both concepts share a mutualistic relationship, benefiting from one another in some way. But how? I’ll tell you, without further adieu…

Without inbound marketing, content marketing wouldn’t exist, thus eliminating the demand for native advertising.

The role of content creation is dire to the success of inbound marketing. When you develop helpful content it helps your business spread its mission without jamming it down someone’s throat.

While your content is useful and relevant to your customers, don’t forget that your content is essentially designed to sell something. We already talked about promoting your content through various tools and start getting the conversation started.

This is where native advertising comes in. This type of advertising helps promote your brand efforts. Sure your content will go a long way to get your message across in a cost-efficient way but if you have a few extra bucks you should put it into native advertising.

Native advertising is a great way to get out that killer content you created. But keep in mind that people may find your ads just as annoying as traditional advertising. They didn’t give you permission to blow up their newsfeed with business promotions.

This is why it’s important to fuel your native advertising with inbound marketing tools like content creation. Keeping track of the responses you get with this type of advertising is going to help you create content that gives your audience what it wants.

What are your thoughts on native advertising and content marketing, let us know in comments below!