Recently, a colleague of mine at PostNord had an interesting conversation with an agency rep. The representative acknowledged that the native advertising we've been doing for the last 18 months, with several publishers, was very good. But, she said, you should really promote your own brand more. You’re too modest.
I found her reaction interesting because it was a conscious decision on our part to build the PostNord brand in native advertising by showcasing our expertise and the success of our customers rather than talk about our brand as such. And I believe this strategy has been a big part of our success.
If you want to build a relationship with your target audience, a relationship that will position you as a reliable partner and someone who can help them develop, you need to prove yourself to them. Consistently and over time. You can’t do that by telling them that you are an expert - you have to show them.
In my mind native advertising is very well suited for brands that want to build a position as a trusted partner. For two reasons:
Native advertising is often done in collaboration with publishers that are trusted by their visitors/readers. The consequence of this is that if we as brands want to make sure that the trust is maintained we need to create content that ads to it, not the opposite.
The concept of native ads demands that you focus on the needs of the audience rather than pushing your own brand as such. In other words, if we want to place our ads in front of an audience that we don’t own we need to make sure that it is engaging and relevant to them.When I look at successful examples of native advertising they do both of these things – they strengthen the publishing platform and they are relevant to the audience.
And when I look at native ads that don’t work well I see the opposite. Companies that are too eager to push their own brand or their products down their audience throats without adding any value. And while doing this they also erode the trust of the platform.
Native advertising is still in many ways a fairly new concept to both publishers and brands. And to the audience as well. This means that early on there will be successful examples of native that is in fact sub-par, where publishers or brands create ads that are focused on the brand itself or on going for the quick conversion. But soon enough one of two things will happen – either we will learn how to create native ads that add value or the audience will find ways of ignoring our ads or simply block them in one way or another.
There is a great quote by Jon Ferrara: ”If you teach people how to fish, they will figure out that you sell fishing poles”. That is the attitude PostNord has adopted when working with native advertising – focusing on providing valuable insights and learnings to our target audiences on the topics that have been important to us. We have avoided content that focuses on the brand itself, or that’s aimed at quick conversions. The result of our native advertising efforts have been very positive – from every aspect and goal – and in my mind this confirms that we have made the right decision.
Pontus Staunstrup is Head of Content strategy and Social media at PostNord Group. Prior to that he was Content strategy director atone of Sweden’s leading content agencies. He has extensive experience of working with content marketing and content strategy as well as social media for a number of Swedish and international companies in both B2B and B2C
Pontus is also a frequent speaker and writer on topics like native advertising, digital strategy and content marketing.
He is a member of PostNord’s steering group for native advertising, as well as lead strategist and analyst.