The marketing funnel—a user’s journey from first becoming aware of your brand to actually making a purchase—is usually thought of in separate stages, each of them focused on different things. Early stages have to do with brand awareness and familiarity, of making your business known to users who may never have heard of you before, while later stages deal with with conversion, turning a user into a (hopefully repeat) customer.
Traditional advertising campaigns have tended to reflect this separation, with advertising units addressing only one or two parts of the marketing funnel, which is broken into “brand” campaigns to build awareness or “direct response” and “performance” campaigns focused on pure conversion.
This has changed with the advent of native advertising. The precise definition of native is somewhat nebulous, but in general it refers to advertising content served in the context of the user’s experience, such as branded content. For example, a news site might share an article “from our sponsors” that, aside from this qualification, looks just like any other article on the site, perhaps even with subject matter that relates to the non-sponsored articles.
An ROI Growth Engine
The benefit of such branded content is that it helps to collapse the marketing funnel into a near singularity, such that separate campaigns aren’t needed, just one that serves the entire user journey. Branded content can be as media-rich as any of the other content it sits beside—native ads can utilise text, video, interactivity, and other tricks of online advertising to serve every stage of the funnel all in one “ad” placement.
For example, brand awareness can be as simple as “sponsored by” text featuring your brand name; this could then be followed up by a video that “tells a story”, featuring product demonstrations and consumer opinions; and finally, it could use copy to inform the potential customer about a particular product or service and drive them to conversion through a call to action (purchase, register, or download). This roughly follows the order of the traditional marketing funnel, but it’s more important that the ad mixes brand awareness with content designed to influence direct purchasing decisions.
More cost-effective than running multiple campaigns, as well as making the journey simpler for the user, effective native advertising drives ROI and can often yield results that are next to impossible to achieve with standard ads.