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As Native Emerges in B2B, Firms Should Take a Lesson From B2C

By Nick Price

As consumers and business buyers adopt ad blocking technologies, the importance of traditional banner and interstitial ads are becoming endangered. Instead, savvy marketers are turning to native ads to help reach prospects in more organic ways.
Native ads have a better chance with buyers since these customers are more responsive to good content that applies to their business and this content can help B2B marketers build long term relationships. This approach makes sense for B2B marketers, whose clients rarely make spontaneous decisions from banners. Native ads that appear in-stream on social media platforms can be very effective, particularly for B2B buyers who often browse their LinkedIn feeds to learn more about their industry.
Brands have a great opportunity to expand their reach by developing good content within this feed. In addition, sponsored listings on aggregator sites can also be beneficial to advertisers when contextually relevant.
B2B marketers just have to look to mainstream B2C marketing to see the trend moving to native. In fact, Facebook just revealed plans to shut down its partnership with monetization platform LiveRail, in favor of native ads to avoid waste. Native makes sense from the user perspective since native content provides a better user experience and social networkers are on their preferred network looking for good content to consume.
“The shift is good to push the digital ad industry toward a better consumer experience,” Victor Wong, CEO of PaperG, a display ad production and creative management firm, told Marketing Dive. “The last 15 years, ad design dictated web design, so if you wanted to make a website, you had to make sure it could fit the standard banner sizes. In the next 15 years, we’ll see web design dictate ad design.”
As marketers lean into a native approach, they should be cognizant of how to be transparent. If not, there could be consequences. In fact, the FTC has settled its first complaint against the retailer Lord & Taylor after the retailer failed to disclose that it was paying social influencers to post its products on Instagram. Essentially the retailer paid and gave free merchandise to influencers to share and tag photos of themselves with the products on the Facebook-owned social network. The retailer also paid for an article in an online fashion magazine, which the FTC determined to be a deceptive business practice.
The FTC recently released a set of best practices. The organization’s movement to prosecute a retailer speaks to the importance of transparency. B2B marketers should take note that all native advertisements should be clear and consumers should be able to tell that the content is sponsored. In addition, this content should be prominent on the main page of a publisher’s site. Also, publishers and advertisers are both responsible for how the content is identified.
But don’t let the regulatory red tape stop you from taking advantage of an emerging new outlet to reach prospects. Native offers companies an excellent way to connect with potential audiences with content they will appreciate.

Nick Price

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