Over the past few years, ad-blocking technology has had massive boost in consumer adoption, seeing a 30 percent growth spurt in 2016 alone. At the same time, both banner and interstitial ads have seen declining appeal from consumers and advertisers alike. They are often perceived to ruin the user’s browsing experience, leading to bad results for the advertiser.10 years ago, B2B agencies weren’t a thing – but they have grown significantly off the increased demand. All businesses now must communicate online and now face greater competition than ever. Which is why many are seeking the benefits of native advertising, to help cut through, to deliver brand and performance.Native advertising delivers a less obtrusive, more organic user experience. Advertisers have seen an 18 percent lift in purchase intent, along with other indications suggesting that native is, by far, the more favorable choice.For more on the latest research, see our State of Content.Native advertising is also said to help ecosystems that feature longer buying journeys, making it an especially appealing format for B2B marketers.
What is Native Advertising?There’s a clear terminology problem in the industry, so in an attempt to add some clarity and by leaving social media ads out of it too, there are three categories that you should know about:Branded ContentThese are articles that look like editorial content, but that has been sponsored by a brand on a publisher site, such as BuzzFeed, HuffPost, NYTimes and so forth. They can be created by the brand itself, or the publisher’s content studio team. This category, is what the majority of people think about when they’re referring to ‘native ads’.In-feed Native DistributionThis is an ad format used to seamlessly present content (user-generated or sponsored content) to users, in different environments such as Content feeds (i.e. editorial sites, feed reader apps, and other content-focused apps designed with a news feed of articles, images, videos, or music), Product Feeds (i.e. sites and apps that display product listings, service listings, or app listings.) and Social Feeds (i.e. include users’ posts, businesses’ posts, articles, photos, videos, and status updates.).Content RecommendationThis is when a brand pays to have their content promoted by a discovery network like Outbrain and Taboola. The content appears in the discovery module alongside organic content.In this post, we’ve picked out real examples of advertisers doing branded content well, along with watch-outs and best practices in the B2B space.Contact your Nudge account manager today to learn how native can work for you.
B2B Campaigns We ❤️native research reports.Downsides:As soon as you land on the article, you see ads from competitive brands. This is definitely a negative when it comes to brand safety, but you also wouldn’t want your competitors to ride on the back of your campaign’s success. This becomes especially problematic on the mobile version of the article, as a competitive ad is featured at the bottom end of the content, interrupting the flow which could mean that people don’t see their final call to action.
Oracle: From Accountants To RockstarsThings we liked:This is a nicely integrated piece of content, it’s cohesive and lifts the brand. For B2B, native is a golden opportunity to share your market perspective and how you fit in, so don’t shy away from doing it. They’ve done a good job of it in this article. The publisher is a nice fit, it feels custom made and the content is rich and fits nicely with their audience.Another positive standout here are the photos. When it comes to B2B, imagery is usually a problem – i.e. ‘the same old stock photo’ syndrome.Compared to the Facebook article, it doesn’t feature any other advertising, which is great – getting an exclusive across the publication is important when it comes to brand safety. And you don’t want your competitors to ride the wave of success that could come out of your campaign.Downsides:Two headlines are featured in the article, the first one being ‘From Accountants To Rock Stars’ and the second, ‘How Real-Time Data Analytics Transform The Role Of Finance’. We found the second headline to be more inline with what the rest of the article is about and we often tell our clients that even if a campaign has gone live, the headline can change, and should change if the data supports it.The article takes a long time to load, which means that they’re potentially losing buyers before they’ve read a single word of their content. From Nudge data, we can see this impacting as high as 60% of users leaving the content before it loads and given that their audience primarily consists of CFO’s, i.e. busy people, it could have negative implications.Visually the piece looks nice, but unfortunately, it looks messy on desktop. It’s clearer on mobile but because of the features, it takes a while to load. Speaking of cross-device, advertisers want to make sure you can reach your audience on different devices throughout the day, which is especially true in B2B, something we feel could have been done better in this campaign.The content only has one call to action, we’d like to have seen multiple throughout. According to Nudge Benchmarks, people on average scroll 64 percent of an article. Seeing as their main call to action is featured at the bottom of the content, it will have been missed by many. The moving units would have been a good place to feature call to actions, as people stop and dwell for a bit.The following articles have previously featured in our lists covering the best native ads over the past few years.
- Best Native Ads of 2018 (updated on a weekly basis)
- Best Native Ads of 2017
- Best Native Ads of 2016
- Best Native Ads of 2015
JPMorgan Chase & Co: The Subway That Connects Two ContinentsThings we liked:This piece targets a niche crowd around a high-value niche service. Good placement and great long-form content for the audience. It shows the power of native content to reach people where they’re reading and introduce new eyeballs.
B2B Native Advertising Watch-Outs
- Ensure your partner has turned off the ad service for competing ads.
- Load time.
- Images is something that B2B brands struggle with – don’t just pick the first image from stock photos.
- Be specific with your headlines, you only want to pull in the right people.
- Not being overt enough – you’ve pulled in a specific audience around a topic, make sure your brand is well integrated.
- Make sure you distribute the content on your own channels as well and use as sales collateral.
Best practicesThe evergreen nature of native ads Native content continues to live on after a campaign has finished.For example, in a recent campaign, one of our client’s saw the following results after the campaign had ‘finished’:
- Social engagement increased from 5% to 35%.
- The content continued to drive conversions at a competitive rate after the campaign finished.