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Research: 5 Native Advertising Best Practices for Publishers

Sep 25, 2019

By following certain native advertising best practices, you can run paid content that is valuable and shareable. This is the conclusion of a study on native advertising (n=1,011) published by Danish business paper, Børsen. The paper’s Director of Creative & Live, Stine Bjerre Herdel, initiated the research which was conducted by Wilke.

Stine Bjerre Herdel will be speaking at the upcoming conference Native Advertising DAYS 2019.

The research supported the potential of native advertising to have a positive commercial impact. However, only if the paid content lives up to or exceeds the reader’s expectations for the format.

Overall, 61 % of the population surveyed had either a positive or neutral attitude toward native advertising. Let's put this into perspective. While consumers might be very reserved toward traditional advertising, nearly two-thirds of the respondents were rather open to sponsored content. This indicates that even though the audience is critical media consumers, it's possible to influence their reservations towards ads with native formats. 

In short, native advertising can be a positive experience for readers, advertisers, and publishers alike. So how do you produce and publish valuable and shareable paid content? Below, we’ve summarized the report's recommendations for native ads. Follow these guidelines to leave readers with a positive perception of the advertiser, without sacrificing your credibility as publisher.

Want to dig deeper into best practices for native advertising? Join the annual industry meet-up, Native Advertising DAYS.


Native advertising best practices - Key takeaways


1. Label native advertising clearly

To the respondents surveyed, transparency increased credibility. Instead of trying to tone down the fact that a native advertisement is just that, the more clearly labeled the content is, the better the experience. But which label to use? In prioritized order, the respondents preferred the following:

  1. ‘Advertiser paid content’
  2. ‘Advertisement’
  3. ‘Sponsored’

RELATED: Study: does the type of label influence readers’ evaluations of native ads?


2. Know that the medium affects the credibility of the content

The more credible a medium is perceived, the more likely readers are to be positive toward its paid content. If your publication generally enjoys a high level of credibility, readers will trust you with running native ads in a responsible way.


3. The topic should align with both advertisers and the medium

“Providers of payday loans shouldn’t do coffee guides,” said Stine Bjerre Herdel in an article summarizing the Børsen study.

It might seem obvious, but to be clear. The native format is not about producing articles unrelated to the issue the advertiser's business is trying to solve. A key takeaway here is that readers might actually perceive brands as experts, although partial. Companies should take advantage of this position and share their expertise on issues that are core to their business.

For a native ad to be relevant it should also fit the profile–as well as the style–of the medium in question.

“In a fashion publication, you should talk about fashion. In a business paper, you should talk about business,” Herdel said.


4. Consumers perceive newspaper articles as most credible

The format of a native ad matters. Traditional print newspaper articles are perceived as the most credible content format. So, mimicking this setup improves the perception of paid content. Next on the list of favored formats were online newspaper articles and print magazine articles.


5.  The story should be credible and educational

The study also investigated which kind of stories readers prefer when it comes to paid content. In summary, respondents’ favored these kinds of stories:

  1. Company background
  2. The company’s perspective on a societal issue
  3. Industry research and insights

Regardless of story type, the more data and sources included in the content, the more credible readers perceive a native ad. Of course, this is true for any journalistic product. Topic-wise, respondents thought the best suited topics for paid content were:

  • Travel and culture
  • Fitness and personal health
  • Home decor and interior design

Finally, which sentiment should advertisers' rely on to influence readers? Respondents indicated that for a native ad to be relevant to them, the content should:

  • “Give me new knowledge”
  • “Inspire me”
  • “Have high use-value”


Story by Aske Denning

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