Ben Young
Ben Young
August 18, 2017

With the recent Google announcement of AdSense native advertising, it is clear that native advertising on the Web is reaching a tipping point. These new formats include in-feed, in-article and matched content.

But the idea of being able to provide something creative and thoughtful, in an environment harmonious to the feed or the context of the publication is largely being ignored.

Instead. we’re seeing executions that are as bland and uninspired as traditional banner advertising back in the day. Or this native advertising being used to sell you the sweater you looked at several months ago,

Native needs a creative renaissance: one can only point to a few interesting examples of creativity in the medium.

1. Fortune Lex Luthor

To launch the new Superman movie, Fortune interviewed Lex Luthor as if he was another business titan. A simple, smart but out of the box idea that would resonate with their audience.

2. WSJ Cocainomics

People visit the WSJ to learn about what’s going on in the business world, in this execution with Netflix to launch Narcos. They dug into the business or being a narco. Makes sense ha.

3. Orange is the New Black

Brilliant example of when Native gets creative - Orange is the new black on New York Times

The original noted piece, uncovering the lives of real female inmates. A style fitting of the NY Times but also stimulated discussion for the Netflix show of the same topic.

The common thread, the work couldn’t exist without the brand but most of all they created interesting ideas, that stuck out in amongst the narrative of their platforms. They didn’t just phone it in.

But that is a lot of work, you say. Creativity is hard! I’m not advocating for every piece of advertising spend in a budget to be some bespoke piece of beautiful, but there are creative opportunities going unrealized.

“There’s a huge difference between data and insights. Data is just a bunch of numbers in a spreadsheet that makes most creatives queasy. What creatives need is insights—revelations about an insight or medium that’ll spark their creativity and help them think about native campaigns in fresh ways.” -Joe Lazauskas, Editor in Chief at Contently

Following is a step by step framework on how to approach briefing for more creative native advertising.

1. Start thinking channels and nuance as soon as you get to the big idea

2. Don’t drown creatives in data: most are adverse to spreadsheets and too much information. Instead, what is the insight derived? What is the brief in a tweet that will get the juices flowing?

3. Creatives also need to be platform thinkers: their concepts shouldn’t just be an idea: modern creativity requires that the distribution — and the understanding of platform and native inventory nuances — be thought of from the start. What are the rules of the platform? How can you push the barriers?

Native advertising presents an opportunity to be truly harmonious, to respect the attention of users and actually be useful. But too often it is being approached in a plug and play, no craft required way. Now that the inventory is there and the technology exists, it is time to get creative and push the barriers.

A recent article on advertising technology in the Guardian stated,

The past few years have focused on ad tech plumbing and circuit-boards. But not enough on what goes in the boxes and inventory that is so meticulously served up. Expect this to swing back into the favor of the creative world, and the people that can make genuinely creative stuff while conveying a brand message.

As Felix Salmon said to Nieman Lab: “When brute force and invasions of privacy don’t work anymore, that’s when creatives start to really show their value.”

With native, this represents the huge opportunity. We, as marketers, have to embrace it.