Brands looking to expand their audience are reaching across the table. When looking to grow an audience, it’s infinitely more effective to leverage another brand’s existing audience base, than to attempt to build your own. Native content should be part of your overall content strategy as it allows you to piggyback another brand’s audience. Great for brand awareness as well as backlinks to increase your search rankings.
Native content are commissioned pieces that are posted on an external site with the hope of making impressions. They are videos, blog posts, how-to articles, and top 10 lists. These content pieces can take the form of any medium as long as they’re highly tailored to fit with the publication. We strongly advise to stay far away from creating advertorial and to focus on value-adding content. Content that looks and feels like it’s any other piece of content from that publisher. Articles that educate, inform, or entertain the reader.
Native content has the look and feel of the publication. Upon-first-glance, these posts are indistinguishable from other editorial content to the reader. Brands work side-by-side with publishers to create and tailor these posts for their audience and their needs. In fact, many native content pieces are so tailored towards adding value that readers don’t even know it’s an ad. This seamlessness is a large part of why native content works.
Old advertising methods don’t work anymore
“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and become what they are interested in.”
Readers don’t like being interrupted in the middle of watching a video or having an image overtake a screen, prompting them to take advantage of a deal. Hubspot reported in 2016 that 72% of consumers say they would have a lower opinion of a brand if they subjected the consumer to a pop-up ad. Native content is a subtle nudge, not a push to engage. Consumers see and reward this behavior from brands.
Native content works because when done right, it adds value to the reader. Since the content is tailored, it’s more than likely something of interest to the reader. Instead of getting in the way of their experience, native content makes their web experience better. Working with publications to create content is nothing new but the rules of the game have changed.
R.I.P to the press release
Media is now a pay-to-play game. Press releases don’t add value. Both publications and readers caught on quickly. Sorry but consumers don’t care about your company news or latest product release. They see it as a blatant ad. Consumers do, however, enjoy reading informative content that is helpful to them; value-adding content.
Some of the largest brands in the world have been using native content as a way to target new audiences and re-engage their customers. It’s a brilliant strategy that’s gaining more adopters by the day. Here are 10 of the best campaigns we’ve seen:
Nest is an internet of things device that connects the home. Everything from thermostats to doorbells to security systems, Nest has a line of products, designed to turn any home into a smart home. Nest partnered with The Atlantic, an American publication known for its commentary of education, social affairs, and politics. The sponsored content story was titled The Rise of the Connected Home. The piece offered a full spectrum view on technologies for the home, not just Nest products. If the small-print disclaimer at the top of the page was removed stating that the story was “Crafted by The Atlantic’s Marketing Team and Paid for by Nest”, a reader would never be able to tell the true intent of this post being an advertisement.
We all know and love the duck that made Aflac famous but the Aflac marketing team has some other tricks up their sleeve aside from talking animals. In fall of 2017, the insurance conglomerate, partnered with Inc magazine. Inc is a popular American weekly magazine for business professionals. Their readers tend to be entrepreneurs, business leaders, and small business owners, who care about leadership and growth. Aflac and Inc’s partnership was a beautiful pairing. They designed a series dubbed “Lessons From the Happiest Workplaces” This series highlighted three of Aflac small business clients, not unlike the readers of Inc. The content was formatted as an infographic, that flowed nicely with the styling of the Inc experience.
Highfive Technologies is the creator of video conferencing hardware and software that makes it easier for the world to connect virtually. The company targets business owners, who have a lot of offsite constituents, making them a very niche product. Targeting was crucial for Highfive Technologies so they turned to doing branded content with Linkedin. Linkedin is one of the largest online publication and social platforms in the world. However, through their capability to target audience in IT, operations, and C-suite professionals, they were able to run a more than successful campaign. One of the articles from their series of pieces was entitled “23 Years Worth of Conversations Are Happening on Highfive Every Month.” Check out their piece of content which now is embedded onto their website. Linkedin did an article featuring this campaign with Highfive. Linkedin boasted that “not only did the company increase its click-through rates 131 percent, but it also saw a 10x boost in organic impressions on Linkedin as compared to other social outlets.”
Rolls Royce has a history of making some of the finest automobiles in the world. Their target audience are some of the wealthiest people around the world. Typically, due to the high costs, travel is seen as a luxury. That’s why it was a natural pairing for Rolls Royce to publish content with National Geographic. National Geographic is known as a world leader in exploration, with their stunning imagery and stories. The piece with Rolls Royce was no exception. The two partnered up to promote the upcoming launch of the Rolls Royce SUV. The article was an entire series complete with videos and stunning imagery that was dubbed “The Final Challenge.” Throughout the campaign, the car was strategically placed and a large part of the feature focus. However, it was positioned in a way that didn’t feel overly done. The piece still provided immense value and intrigue to the National Geographic reader.
Hilton Hotels & Resorts
Hilton is known as a leader in the hospitality industry, boasting numerous hotels across the globe. Their clients range from the elite CEOs on business trips to a small family taking an economic vacation. Hilton decided to target their Homewood Suites customer in a Buzzfeed post. Buzzfeed is an online news and media company featuring content around celeb news, DIY hacks, quizzes, and journalism. The average Buzzfeed reader skews young in age, typically between the ages of 13-22. Buzzfeed has become masters in sponsored content, due to their seamless incorporation of native content with Buzzfeed-original content. Others have taken notice of their success. AdWeek ran an article in April 2013 stating “Buzzfeed Has This ‘Sponsored Content’ Thing Down”. In recent years, Buzzfeed has only gotten smarter with how they work with brands. With Homewood Suites, they ran an article title “10 Things You Know If You Love Hotels More Than Your Own Dang Home”. The article featured a Buzzfeed signature formatting style complete with a list of short relatable takeaways and hilarious gifs.
The Transform Conference is the first European conference focused on AI designed for executives. The conference featured world-renowned speakers and is invitation only. In 2018, the “Laurel or Yanny?” debate swept the English speaking world. Transform Conference along with their publishing partner, Venture Beat hopped on the trend for a native content piece. VentureBeat is one of the top sources for technology news. It’s read by entrepreneurs, C-level executives, and leaders across the globe. To settle the Laurel vs. Yanny debate once and for all, they used an AI device. The article discussed problems that arose and engineers reaction to sed problems. The article subtly nudged Transform Conference as a platform to further explore the limits of algorithms. The conference was scheduled just several months away, which lined up perfectly for conference goers. The article even offered a 20% discount offer to readers. Blending in a hot trend with a native content piece would make for one powerhouse of a campaign.
These big brands aren’t the only ones who can take advantage of native content
Brands of all sizes can embrace and be successful in sponsored content. However, building relationships with the biggest publishers in the world can be challenging and time-consuming. Most companies are blending traditional PR, purchasing advertising, and using placement tools like Contento to get articles into media. One of the more challenging parts of doing sponsored content and PR is the sheer time. Don’t waste time reaching out to publications. Instead, join other companies who are using a network like Contento. Contento offers your articles to a network of media and blogs. Check out the complete guide for Sponsored Content in 2019. It’s your cheat sheet for getting started with sponsored content this year! Sponsored content can be widely successful for your brand when done right. Get inspired by these brand’s campaigns and start your own today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Carl Thompson
17 years of playing in the digital marketing space. Over that time Carl has worked with many companies, created a clothing label, and co-founding tech companies Tradegecko.com, Bronami.video, and Contento.marketing
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