19 Aug 2014

Translating Native Advertising for an International Audience

Native advertising is more effective than display advertising when it comes to grabbing the attention of consumers.

That’s according to research from IPG Media Lab which measured visual attention and brand lift for native ads from a number of top brands including National Geographic and Southern Comfort.

Consumers look at native ads 53% more frequently than they do display ads, while 25% of them look at in-feed native ad placements – the most common editorial native ad format – more often than display ad units.

Native ads also register an 18% higher lift in purchase intent and 9% lift for brand affinity responses compared to display ads. 32% of shoppers are inclined to share a native ad with a friend or family member versus just 19% for display ads.

With this in mind, are brands missing out by not translating their native advertising for international markets?

Native advertising explained

Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience mimics the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.

It is the practice of using content to build trust and engagement with would-be customers, so it can be anything from a promoted tweet on Twitter, a suggested post on Facebook or one of those full-page ads between Flipboard pages.

You can also find native ads on a host of other sites – Pinterest, Instagram, BuzzFeed and Tumblr to name a few.

There are two essential components to consider when it comes to a native ad.

1. Form

Native ads must match the visual design of the experience they live within, meaning they should look and feel like natural content.

2. Function

Native ads must behave consistently with the native user experience, so they should function just like natural content.

What’s the difference between native ads and display ads?

Brands have long worked with online publications to reach people in a bid to sell their products and services.

Display ads take on several forms – banners, columns, boxes etc – and can be found at the top or on the border of web pages, instant messaging applications and email. Text, image, interactive and video ads are all common in this format, while rich media is another option available to brands.

Native ads, in comparison, can be found submerged in the flow of editorial content, rather than separate from it, meaning products or services are promoted in the context of the online user’s experience.

In a nutshell, native ads and display ads use different engagement models. Native ads are subtle, gently introducing themselves to readers, while display ads are based on the same interruption model as traditional broadcast and print advertising.

The benefits of native ads

Consumers can sometimes be put off by intrusive display ads. It’s been said that you’re more likely to complete Navy Seal training or give birth to twins than click on a banner ad.

Banner ads can also take up large chunks of the page and act as a distraction, and many of these older formats do not really work well on mobile devices.

Native ads, on the other hand, look less like an advertisement and more like an editorial, so they subtly capture the attention of internet users, who are therefore more likely to stop browsing, take notice and read.

Here are just some of the advantages of using native ads.

Growth of brand content

Native ads give brands the ideal opportunity to publish and share their content with a wider audience, infiltrating previously untapped markets and attracting potential new customers in the process.

They also provide a way for them to better monitor and analyse the results, which can result in further improvements in future performance.

Mobile capability

Native ads work on mobile, unlike display ads, so text links, hosted editorials or promoted videos are all possible. This is because it sits within the main content areas of web pages, meaning it is experienced in the same way.

Such ads can be deployed across any technological platform – desktop, tablet, mobile – with no need to change creative or make platform specific changes.

Innovative opportunities

Native ads allow brands to be more innovative than ever before. The small text requirements, limited graphics and restricted video content of display ads have been replaced by the unrivalled freedom of native ads.

There is the chance to cover all the areas of a product or service so customers get the complete picture, no just little snippets.

Examples of native ads in action

Brands would therefore certainly reap the rewards from translating their native ads for international markets.

Guinness is one of the big names to have benefited from native ads in the past. Its ‘Guinness Guide to Oysters’ and ‘Guinness Guide to Cheese’ print features look just like editorial content at first glance, yet in reality they are clever ads.

If you removed the brand name, both would fit the style of the publication – and this is what sets them apart from display ads.

The context in each case is relevant, with the ads appearing in food magazines or as posters in pubs and clubs, while the call to action is crystal clear – drink Guinness, whether you are eating oysters or not.

Captain Morgan’s campaign on BuzzFeed in general, particularly its ‘15 Things You Didn’t Know About 15 Captains, Commanders And Conquerors’ article, is another great example of how effective native ads can be.

The theme of the article matches the brand’s values – Captain Morgan was a real-life pirate – plus the article itself matches the editorial standards of BuzzFeed, essentially a list with big images and short, quirky copy.

Nothing is being sold here, as the content is clearly labelled ‘BuzzFeed Partner’. The call to action is to simply visit the Captain Morgan page on YouTube.

Transcreation of native advertising

Native advertising requires transcreation. The fact that native advertising is embedded into editorial articles means that it needs to be adapted for use both in the context of the editorial article but also for the target market and audience.

Users in different countries and regions around the world behave very differently online and native ads need to adapt their approach for different markets.

Just like TV and other traditional advertising, when translated properly with the end users’ culture and behavior in mind, native advertising can be a powerful tool for international marketing.


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