A Lesson in Native Advertising from the New York Times
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A Lesson in Native Advertising from the New York Times

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Native advertising has been a hot topic for a long time. Only recently have major publications fully embraced online distribution methods (which have led to more data on ads than ever before).

We knew great native content was better than blatant advertiser-generated content, but we couldn’t have dreamed how much better it actually is: The New York Times recently reported that content from its own T Brand Studio (the Times’s native ad team) generates 361 percent more unique page visits and 526 percent more time spent on the page than advertiser-produced counterparts. Those numbers are staggering. Here’s what it means, and what you should do to ride that wave.

Newspapers and coffee cup reading glasses pen and striped paper.** Note: Visible grain at 100%, best at smaller sizesGet Online

The main reason for increased native advertising opportunities is undoubtedly the Internet. It killed the radio star, it’s made print ads less valuable, and it provides analytics that make native ads more compelling than ever before.

If your brand is struggling to find its niche in online advertising, native content is probably the answer. T Brand Studio content outperformed advertiser-generated content by 1,613 percent on Facebook and 504 percent on Twitter.

They might be good, but it’s not just that the Times’s advertising people are that much better than all other brands’ agencies. In the increasingly oversaturated news feeds we scroll through, links to trusted publications such as the New York Times or the Washington Post seem much more worthwhile than jarring ads inserted with direct links to purchasers’ pages. You’re much less likely to read an article about cleaning oil spills that links to Shell’s website than one that takes you to a major news outlet, even if the copy is written by the same author.

Get Real

Consumers definitely have ad fatigue as more social media platforms lean on sponsored content for revenue, but their savviness goes beyond simple link recognition. Native content has to be executed well to be worthwhile. If you’re buying space right next to editorial-column heavy hitters, make the most of it.

Late last year, native content made the reverse migration from Web to print, and it didn’t always go smoothly. There are lessons to be learned from the print stumbles that can apply back to the Web. While viewers are more forgiving of varied designs and voices on rich-media sites than print-only publications, the difference between carefully crafted native ads and sloppy copy is huge. If you’re going to buy the space, buy someone who knows how to use it, too.

Get Smart

Choose your publications based on statistics, and demand analytics to back up your purchase. Online demographics are often quite different from their print counterparts, so make sure you’re selecting digital publications that maximize exposure to your target audience.

If you work with the right publication and a great advertising team, you might just achieve results like those of the New York Times and T Brand Studio, which saw five paid posts place among the top 5,000 editorial artices on the Times’s website last year.

Get to It

Last month, I looked at various ways to get involved in the native advertising game. There are many good options, but nothing beats the results top big-media publications are achieving with their in-house advertising programs. They know their audiences better than anyone else, and they also know their content the best. That combination has proven successful at rates that surpass most marketers’ wildest dreams.

A huge part of native advertising’s success is its ability to integrate with original content, which is why in-house agencies are delivering the results that they are. With the click-through rates and time-on-page numbers the best publications are generating, you really can’t afford to miss out on native content marketing.

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