What is Native Advertising? Why Should Schools Care?

School marketers are working hard on content marketing because they want to reap the benefits of increased website traffic, engagement and SEO rankings. At the same time, content marketing continues to evolve, providing new challenges and opportunities.

Regardless of whether you see more of its detractors or its opportunities, native advertising will play an increasingly important role in your digital marketing world in the near term.

Wikipedia defines native advertising as :

Native advertising is an advertising method in which the advertisers attempt to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience. Native ad formats match both the form and function of the user experience  in which they are placed. The advertiser’s intent is to make the paid advertising feel less intrusive and thus increase the likelihood users will click on it.

Going native simply means placing ads in spots on a webpage where the viewer or user is naturally looking, matching the form and function of the platform on which the ad appears.

At its simplest, native advertising can take the form of a promoted tweet or a Facebook sponsored post within a user’s content or news feed. They are usually identified by an indication that it is a sponsored post; however the degree to which sponsored content is highlighted varies widely between platforms. So why should you care about the role of native advertising in the Education marketplace? Here are 3 good reasons:

  1. Native advertising works better than banner advertising. Research indicates that native gets 15-45 times higher click-throughs, 18 times more time spent on content, 10 times more engagement and 50% higher purchase intent. These are pretty significant increases on advertising ROI which could have a significant impact on your overall marketing performance.
  2. In today’s digital marketplace we are becoming increasingly blind to certain ad placements. It’s become much more effective to be on the left hand side of the Google search results page right above where people are trained to look for their organic search results. Google considers these ads on the top to be native because they are in line with the area of the page where people are naturally trained to look for their results.
  3. Native advertising options are exploding dramatically. Native advertising is expected to grow from a $1.6 billion market in 2012 to $4.6 billion by 2017, according to research firm BIA/Kelsey.

Native advertising has serious ethical dimensions. Contently published the results of a survey that found 66% of consumers have felt ‘deceived’ when they realised an article or video was brand-sponsored. And more than 50 percent said they don’t trust sponsored content!

As you can see in the earlier examples, a wide swatch of Education marketing is already moving into native advertising. You need to determine your position on it.

Have you already adopted the use of native advertising?

Where is your line in the sand with respect to the ethics of native advertising?

Has your school marketing department formulated its position yet?

Have you received any negative feedback from parents or students about your native campaigns?

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