"Native" Advertising Is All The Rage. Contextual Advertising Is Better!

11 Oct "Native" Advertising Is All The Rage. Contextual Advertising Is Better!

Pink minivan via Triplepundit.com

Pink minivan via Triplepundit.com

“Native advertising” is buzzing at industry trade events, webinars and sales seminars these days.

The very term “native” advertising begs the question: What is this advertising native to? Online? The media outlet? News?

Content That Works was founded in 2001 to promote what we call “contextual” advertising – that is, advertising (of any kind) that appears in the context of great content related to the subject matter of what’s being advertised. We still believe advertising that appears in context — whether in print, online or broadcast — works better than advertising that appears out of context.

My colleague Bob Gifford likes to give the example of an auto dealer’s pink minivan ad that appears  on your home page. Everyone seeing the ad might get a positive vibe about the dealer’s commitment to breast cancer awareness and women in the community. However, most viewers are unlike to be in the market for any car, much less a pink minivan.

Move that same ad to the auto section on your site, a section specifically designed to appeal to potential car buyers – coincidentally, the majority (54%) just happen to be women. The odds of actually selling a car to the person seeing the ad go up dramatically. Why? Despite being seen by fewer people, the ad appears in a context that appeals to a viewer actively in the market for a car or passively dreaming about their next car purchase. The viewer chose to go to that page for a reason.

All things Internet are designed to help buyers meet sellers. If you use Gmail, you know Google tracks keywords that appear in your emails and your searches to deliver “relevant” ads to you in a little strip at the top of the page. It’s still an imprecise science.

For example, the strip ad at the top of my Gmail right now is: “Best Wrigley Rooftop – 3639wrigleyrooftop.com – Best location, view and facility Enjoy the Best Rooftop experience”. I live and work near Wrigley Field, it is true. Score one for Google. I occasionally search sports topics, score two. I often scan sports news sites and get offers from these sites via email. Rack up another one for Google.

The only problem is, I am an avid basketball fan. I haven’t been to a Cubs game in years. Plus, the baseball season is long past for the Cubs, who were last in their division.

The point is that the Internet is a great tool for targeting, but far from perfect.

“Native” advertising, a sponsored article that looks like editorial coverage and appears on a content-oriented website, is a potentially interesting and effective tool.

That tool gets much sharper when it moves from “native” to become contextual, meaning it appears in a rich and relevant context that viewers choose to visit because of their interests.

Content That Works has always been dedicated to providing timely, targeted context in eight different topical areas. We can help make your “native” ads contextual, and therefore, more effective.