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Native Advertising in business to business: Decision makers are also humans

Dec 9, 2015

Unless you’re currently on a solo mission to Mars chances are you work closely with other people. People act as influencers and decision makers across most companies. There’s a saying that “advertising is about interruption - but marketing is about communication”. But when it comes to business to business a lot of companies forget this rule and opt for “tried and tested” methods of attracting attention. Is this you? If so: stop it! Right now!


When making a professional decision, you are striving to make your decision as informed as possible on behalf of your business. But look at your own personal track record or purchasing history from the last year and compare it to that of 3 years ago. Has it not changed? Are you now not more informed, skilled and with a clearer view of the playing field then ever before when purchasing travel, deciding on a restaurant or checking the price of shoes?

With the democratisation of publishing, individuals and brands now act as media outlets and take ownership to their own storytelling. Have you realized the full potential of this change?

Is your corporate communication strategy a reflection of how decisions are now being made?

Limiting the scope of your communication to trade publications and events to reach your goal is as dated as not checking Tripadvisor before booking a hotel. Remember: People are people - ALL the time. Keeping an eye firmly on the objectives of your communications plan is still key to success! Just because a marketplace is defined by professionalism rather than consumerism does not make the rules or the people involved change.

This is where native advertising comes into the picture. Although slightly tainted by the “buzzword” stain that comes with all rising advertising trends, Native still has a tremendous potential for business to business reach and effect.

How can you leverage opportiunites to reach strategic goals with native?

The trick is to keep your eye on the context and adopt accordingly.
Since native ads are meant to feel at home within their environment, when you're creating them you need to take special care to make sure they fit the audience that’s viewing them. Focus on the topic, the tone of voice and the most relevant presentation to suit your audience.

The POST framework is entry level business-school-strategy stuff, but let’s put it into context for B2B marketing strategy:

People - who are the people at the company you want to reach? What are they like and what is their corporate culture?

If I want to establish a business relationship with your company I will look at the people who work there, who do I know, what do we have in common? Are we attending the same tradeshows, golf clubs or associations?

Objectives - What do you want to accomplish when you have their attention?
The purpose of the relationship must be clear. Do I want you as a customer? As a supplier? As a partner in a new venture? Behind every objective is a story and that story must always start with WHY. Because HOW is something we can solve together.

Strategy - how will YOU need to change to get their attention, what do you need to create to please them?

If I know what I want to achieve and why - I can tailor my message to you accordingly. I can tell you a story that reflects the background for my idea and why it will benefit us both. I can develop the story to match my objctives, and because I know a bit about you and your people - I can make that story interesting to you by playing into your hands.

Technology - What is the best way to deliver the message?

I know what I must tell you to get your attention, and why I want to have your eyes on me. I know how to tell you that story - now I must asses the abillity to deliver. Do I have the tools to do the job or do I need to acquire them. Technology serves a purpose, it’s never the purpose itself. So to with marketing options.

How do I get the desired attention - is native something for me?

We all know about “banner blindness” (when is the last time you clicked on one?), and as ad-blockers become standard features on browsers across devices, native ads will help get your message in front of people who would otherwise ignore it.

Here are five ways to grab attention, attract readers and create traffic to your story:

In-feed/In-stream Units

These appear as posts within the stream of content on social media sites like Facebook posts, blogs etc. Professional networks like LinkedIn or Twitter now offer the same functionality and enables you to attract attention based on topic or category. The challenge of course is grabbing attention without resorting to click baiting.

Paid Search Units

The search ads we're all familiar with. Those little yellow ads above (or to the right) of your results that say "Ad." However, with search advertising you only reach forward leaning users. A bit like preaching to the choir...

Recommendation widgets

Have you noticed how recommendations in editorial content (typically titled “You might also like” or “More content” at the bottom of news articles and blogs?). These are recommendation widgets that are based on contextual relevance and the readers browsing history and interest. Your story is presented in an editorial enviroment and will typically attract the attention of someone who is interested in your story and you only pay for the traffic you get.

Promoted Listings

Might appear similar to search ads in many ways, but show up when you're browsing instead of searching. On B2C sites like Amazon, when you see a "promoted" item beside the other things Amazon thinks you should buy. This applies to a lot of B2B channels as well, like software directories, and review sites.

In-ad with native elements
Basically a standard display ads, but placed next to contextually relevant content based on key words.

B2B marketing is built on the same premise as I opened with: marketing is about communication, and people love to communicate. So isn’t it time to assess if you are telling your story to the right people for the right reasons in the right way?

Want more? Sign up for the Native Advertising Institute Newsletter and get weekly insights and news from the people who live and breathe native advertising.

About the author

Rickard Lawson is the Managing Director of Strossle Norway. He has a substantial career background in commercial business development and marketing for a wide range of companies. Past experience ranges from corporate giants like GettyImages and Discovery Channel to private start-ups and entrepreneurial projects in WebTV and retail . He has an MBA in International Marketing and Operations from UeL in London and believes hard work somehow justifies all the time he spends flyfishing or skiing the mountains of Norway.

Story by Rickard Lawson

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