by Michael O'Neill
April 30th, 2014

Last week, I posted four reasons why I believed native ads are now here to stay.

The article looked at how native advertising was initiating a major change in the publishing industry. For brands that wish to take advantage of the native advertising format, and content marketing in general, a similar change needs to take place. It won’t be easy. Old ways of thinking around content, what it should say and how it’s success should be measured, need to be dropped.

How then can brands adjust their content to fit in with this new media landscape? Here are four suggestions on how to get started on the way to becoming a native brand.

1. Native is not advertorial. This point cannot be emphasised enough. You are not writing advertorials. You tried that before, and if it didn’t work then, it certainly won’t work now. People no longer want to read about how great your brand is, but they may still be interested on what your brand has to say. Therefore, create content around your brand, not about your brand.

2. The clue is in the name. Native advertising is meant to be natural; it should fit into its surroundings. One size most definitely does not fit all. A native ad on Buzzfeed will not look the same as a native ad on the Wall Street Journal. Different audiences, different styles. As such, your content needs to be built on a solid editorial strategy to help plan and execute operations.

3. Think like a publisher. Publishers are on the whole committed to content that is objective, relevant, timely and transparent, because that is the kind of content people like to read. You need to do the same.

4. Have something to say. No matter how brand neutral your content is, how objective and relevant it may be, or how well it fits into the natural surroundings, you still need to have something to say. Just like the best editorial content, aim to have a clear point of contention. If that is too risky, deliver some insight; surprise or entertain. Anything. Just avoid content for content’s sake.

Following these steps will not only allow brands to better fit in with natural advertising formats, it will also enhance greatly their existing media relations and earned media opportunities.

By operating with a publisher’s mindset, brands will automatically become more attractive to publishers hungry for content. At the same time, adopting an editorially-led, brand publishing approach will go a long way to ensuring that the content you create is the exactly the kind of content people want to read and share.

Michael O’Neill is digital managing editor, Asia Pacific, at Weber Shandwick

To receive our updates: