Social media marketing may have ruled in 2014, but it looks as if its time in the sun may be coming to an end. Larger businesses can still reach potential customers on Facebook and Twitter, often by paying to promote their posts, but small businesses are frequently lost in the shuffle. Social media may represent the most popular online pastime—or bad habit—for the average person, but the sheer amount of content that is shared across networks means that many advertisements and business pages are all but invisible these days. To make matters worse, many casual Facebook and Twitter users really don’t want to see advertisements and promotions on their feeds. Social media marketing may not be dead, but it’s safe to say that it no longer has the impact it once had.
Now that social media marketing is being phased out and Google’s latest algorithm update has made SEO a little more complicated, where will web marketers go next? According to many tech giants, the next big thing in online marketing is native advertising.
What Is Native Advertising?
Native advertising refers to any advertisement that blends into the customer’s natural user experience. In other words, it’s advertising that doesn’t look like advertising. Movies that feature characters drinking Pepsi instead of Coke or wearing a particular clothing brand are engaging in native advertising. It’s not a new concept of course; this kind of advertising has existed for almost as long as there has been media of any kind.
With the prominence of native advertising in print, film and television, it was only a matter of time before it made it into digital media. Over the last twenty years or so, native advertising has been used to describe the kinds of subtle advertisements that appear in blogs and homepages. Instead of large banner ads and obtrusive pop-up ads, these advertisements can blend seamlessly into the rest of a webpage, often being folded into the content itself. Examples of native advertising on web pages include sponsored tweets on Twitter, sponsored stories on Facebook and promoted videos on YouTube. These all look like part of their respective sites’ main interface; they don’t stick out to the average user as advertisements, yet that’s exactly what they are.
Native advertising could become very important for web marketers in the future. Advertising on websites has become so commonplace that people are starting to block obvious ads out, either mentally or through the use of ad blocking software. As a result, online advertising isn’t reaching nearly as many people as it once did. A link to an interesting news story or funny video is far more likely to grab a person’s attention than a banner that aggressively sells a new product. As a result, it’s imperative that marketers learn to make their content speak for itself. Essentially, the product needs to be its own advertisement. When native advertising is done well, users end up getting sold on a product or service before they realize that they’ve just viewed an ad.
Image Source: Pixabay
Native Advertising and SEO
Native advertising and SEO can easily go hand-in-hand. While the old practice of keyword stuffing is frowned upon and doesn’t work anymore, web marketers can still find keywords that are relevant to their business or website and subtly work them into their content. Marketers can and should still use tools such as the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to determine high-ranking keywords and phrases and use them in their content. In many ways native advertising is just the latest evolution of SEO copywriting.
Native advertising may sound like the latest buzz word that is thrown around by marketers, but it is clearly a very old concept. Internet-based marketing is changing all the time, and incorporating a simple-yet-ingenious concept such as native advertising could be what keeps it alive in 2015.