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Defining and Applying Native Advertising

The Online Publishers Association in partnership with Radar Research published the paper Premium Content Brands Are Native Naturals to understand OPA members’ brands native advertising offerings, marketer goals, metrics for success and surface best practices generated from these programs. Their results have ramifications for the digital publishing industry as a whole.

The Association’s members defined Native Advertising as the following:

• Integration into the design of the publisher’s site and lives on the same domain
• Content either provided by, produced in conjunction with or created on behalf of our advertisers that runs within the editorial stream
• Clear delineation and labeling as advertising content
• Editorial value to the reader and conforms to the reader’s expectations
• Contextually relevant, non-standard advertising units
• Content marketing such as sponsored sites, games, infographics, etc.
• Highly automated advertising content such as sponsored stories, publisher tweets, etc.

Using these parameters, some Best Practices are defined in these areas:

•Clearly differentiate native advertisement from editorial content through labeling
•Develop clear editorial standards and practices to help communicate with marketers what type of content serves audiences best, the process for content review and monitoring audience posts

•Make native advertising content discoverable in the same way other content is –through search and social media
•Optimize for mobile, including tablets and smartphones

•Use a consultative sales approach; think about overall communication goals and voice of the marketer

•Amplify native advertising through paid and social media on and off site
•Promote native advertisement throughout site to drive traffic

•Train regular sales staff in consultative sales as required
•Leverage resources/expertise across the organization

•Include legal counsel in the discussions related to developing standardized/packaged native advertisement programs
•Necessity of clear labeling of native advertising

•Pick content partners which resonate with your brand
•Invest in developing relationships with content publishers; develop native programs which can evolve and expand iteratively over time

The report summarizes its findings thus:
•Three-quarters of OPA brands offer native advertising today with a potential of 90% by year end
•Marketers are leveraging OPA brands deep content expertise with the majority requesting programs featuring newly created or repackaged publisher content
•Marketers seek the brand equity publishers have amassed and their ability to drive consumer engagement through great content
•Marketers are adopting established publishing content metrics including engagement and traffic to measure native advertising programs
•OPA brands are deploying dedicated sales and creative resources to assist marketers and their agencies with native advertising programs

Best practices for native advertising include:
•Transparence: native advertising assets should be clearly labeled
•Discoverability: native should be discoverable as any other content
•Value: native advertising should provide the same value as any other content

More information about this report and the OPA can be found here: