Native Advertising: Four Brands Doing It Right

April 27, 2015 | By: Lauren Reeves | 3 min read

LaneTerralever’s VP, Content, Jon Lewis, recently served as a panelist for a MediaPost event discussing Native 2.0 and content marketing. The panel offered listeners fresh ideas on how to integrate native advertising into their marketing strategies. Today we’re sharing a few of our favorite native advertising partnerships.

Cole Haan and .Mic

Cole Haan created a series of articles for .Mic, called History Begins Here, looking at a handful of young women who are making strides in their industries. The content shares the women’s power, strength, and intelligence, without even mentioning Cole Haan products.

One of the most important things to remember in developing native advertising is that the content should be something the consumer wants to read, whether it is something informative, entertaining, intriguing, or in this case, inspiring. The History Begins Here series highlights women in a wide variety of fields like politics, technology, and art, so there’s a relatable feature for every young woman. Plus, phrases like “our generation” draw the reader in and encourage a feeling of camaraderie, like the reader is part of the movement being discussed. Of course, bonus points to Cole Haan for creating native content that is positive and empowering for young women, which is always a good thing.

Nike and SB Nation

Nike takes a pull in a different direction, targeting young men through their native series for SB Nation, an online sports media brand that provides news and communications about professional athletics. In the piece, First & Long, Nike sent seven NFL players back to their high schools to crash practice and share some advice. The content featured six 1:30 videos of the events, with short textual commentary.

Again, we find the creators using content specific to a generation of young men who are likely involved with their high school sports teams. The videos draw the audience in with relatable events, encouraging them to imagine what it would be like if an NFL idol crashed their summer practice. Note that the content doesn’t explicitly promote Nike’s brand, but maintains their brand’s expressions and messaging as it would in a Nike commercial or advertising.

The New York Times and Netflix

The two powerhouses teamed up for an engaging native ad about women in America’s prison system. The interactive landing page, featuring videos, testimonials, and statistics, is written in a raw, journalistic style, without pushing the actual purpose of the content: to promote Netflix’s original series “Orange Is The New Black” (OITNB).

Shared on Mashable, the Times said they chose to promote this content, among other native ads, to share the breadth of content they offer and draw in new readership. The piece reports information that is rarely discussed, making it intriguing and appealing to a variety of audiences, particular those viewers of the wildly popular OITNB.

BuzzFeed and Visa

BuzzFeed is known for creating content that makes you think, “This is exactly how I feel!” Their endless feed of numbered lists and pop culture references can offer something to nearly ever reader, especially those of the millennial generation. BuzzFeed makes good use of its ubiquity by offering a breadth of native advertising from a variety of sponsors.

According to AdAge, BuzzFeed has created a network of native ads that is growing every day. You’ve probably seen one of these sneaky ads come up without realizing it, watching the short clip in all it’s humor, entertainment, and totally relatable content. Many of the ads, like this one from VISA, begins playing as soon as it appears on a Facebook feed and engages viewers with calls to action like “Can you guess the fake?” Really, who doesn’t want to test their known intelligence and participate?

So what makes native advertising special?

There are innumerable factors at play here. There’s no single type of native ad, no distinct way to write, create, or produce an ad, and no specific target audience most receptive to them. In fact, digital platforms are not the first to incorporate native advertisements. Creative publications like John Deere’s The Furrow Magazine has been around since 1895, and is a prime example of a printed native ad. But there are some aspects that make native ads stand out.

Native advertising doesn’t bluntly push a product, and it’s uniquely relatable to the consumer. If someone’s interested in the topic under discussion, they’ll click, they’ll interact, and they’ll consume. That’s all there is to it. Giants like AdAge and Econsultancy agree that with the popularity of digital native advertising today, it’s safe to say it’ll be here for a while, especially as consumers increasingly shy away from more direct forms of marketing.

Now it's your turn: Have you created any successful native advertising partnerships? What content did you use and how did you promote it? Share your experiences with us in the comments section.

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