With brands increasingly turning to native as a content-marketing solution, the industry is quickly learning what works and what doesn't. And at this nascent stage in native, marketers are still going through growing pains. To avoid future headaches, here are the three biggest brand roadblocks to making native work, along with solutions that will help advertisers save time, money and valuable resources.
1.Shifting from traditional advertorial mindsets
Brands need to syndicate editorial content that will capture reader attention, engage them and prompt action. But marketers can't just syndicate advertorials, brand it content and call it a day. Consumers have become extremely digitally savvy and can sniff out non-traditional ads instantly. That's why direct-response, product-centric language in native campaigns does the brand a great disservice and typically performs poorly on attention-based measurement -- readers feel tricked and immediately disengage.
So, how can brands avoid this trap?
To start, marketers must give readers the benefit of the doubt, and trust they are savvy content consumers. Without this, any strategic campaign planning is moot. From there, it's no surprise that establishing clear campaign goals and key performance indicators, while developing a content strategy with a compelling story, are crucial first steps.
But what marketers really need to do is adapt their brand messaging and language so it can live naturally on trusted publisher sites. This means making sure the subject matter is relevant to the audience and focuses on themes rather than products, using a tone that is relatable.
For example, if an auto brand were to run a piece on the best road trips that aligned with its brand image -- such as adventure road trips for Jeep -- with the car in visually compelling photos highlighting realistic-looking situations with friends and family, that's a lot more engaging than the traditional ad strategy of detailing all of the car's features.
2. Congested approvals processes
Everyone is all too familiar with the frustrating symptoms of bottlenecks in a creative approval process -- a delayed start date may result in reduced inventory, shifted brand priorities and budgets, as well as content that is no longer timely or relevant.
While approvals seem the nature of the client services beast, there are things marketers can do to better manage approvals, as well as minimize challenges.
First, define point people across all involved teams to be accountable for deliverables and due dates. Second, all teams should have a shared timeline, detailing each step of the process -- and specifically what is needed from each party. For example, when assets are due, does the brand know the specifications? Does legal need to approve content after the brand team approves content? If so, does this step require its own approval window built into the schedule?
Additionally, providing consolidated feedback can significantly streamline operational efficiencies. When every member of a team weighs in separately, varied opinions can result in extended discussion. Instead, appoint a team leader who can consolidate all the requested revisions from the team. This will make the overall process go much more smoothly.
Finally, if an advertiser is working with a vendor to create campaign content, the brand team should raise major concerns early in the process. Waiting until the draft phase to bring up major issues makes it much more challenging and time-consuming to resolve. Brands and vendors both need to be transparent and communicative about expectations early on for maximum efficiency.
3.Missing optimization opportunities
Not taking advantage of optimization opportunities after a campaign launches can ultimately hurt campaign performance and prevent a campaign from realizing its full potential for engagement. And lessons learned during this phase also enable marketers to apply data against ongoing and future content programs.
How can brands ensure they're optimizing content?
Optimization opportunities are similar to having a focus group providing real-time feedback about what does and doesn't appeal to readers. With today's robust ad tech ecosystem, marketers have expanded tools to apply A/B tests and optimizations on campaigns. It's no different with content -- marketers can test their branded content's various components, such as headlines and images. By not taking advantage of this, brands are turning down the chance to listen to consumers and gain actionable insights around messaging that best resonates with users.
While native presents marketers with new ways to innovate digital advertising, it can quickly turn into a painful process if not approached strategically. By anticipating the above roadblocks well ahead of time, brands will put themselves in a much better position to reap the benefits of native opportunities as their content initiatives quickly grow.