The average individual living in the modern world is exposed to around 250 to 3,000 advertising messages every day. Your company’s message has to stand out to rise to the top and be heard among the din. With all the avenues that are available to you, it can be difficult to know what to choose to make the biggest splash with your marketing dollars. The two most common types of advertising today are banner advertising and native advertising. What is the difference, and which one is better for your business?
You’re almost certainly already familiar with banner advertising. Banner ads are the graphic displays across the top or bottom of a website, or maybe along the side bar. Most often, banner ads are images which are promoting a brand or product. The goal is typically to get the consumer to click through to a website. Banners are paid advertising, and the customer typically pays for their ad based on the number of people who actually see the ad (ad impressions) or on the number of people who click through to your site (measured by the clickthrough rate, or CTR). When banner ads first gained popularity in 1974, the CTR was a whopping 78 percent. At one point, the CTR for banner ads was as high as 90 percent. However, in 2013 the CTR on banner ads was only around 0.8 percent—a sharp decline that makes this kind of advertising both more expensive and less effective than in its heyday.
Native advertising is a term for a specific subset of what might be more familiar under its other moniker: content marketing. Content is what the Internet is made of: every tweet, cat video and think-piece. Native advertising promotes that content, delivering it to more people, but in a way that feels more natural. “Native advertising can be a promoted tweet on Twitter, suggested post on Facebook or one of those full-page ads between Flipboard pages,” says Tony Hallet in The Guardian. This content helps the customer understand your industry and learn to trust your brand. The idea is that native ads are paid media that feel like natural content—they provide useful information and advice to an audience whose attention they’re written to capture. Most importantly, native ads don’t feel nearly as intrusive as banner ads do, which gives you a major edge when competing for the attention of your audience.
Which One Is Right for Your Business?
Banner ads have fallen out of grace. As more businesses purchased banner ads, customers quickly learned to tune them out. In fact, many customers have installed ad blocking software on their computers for that very reason. However, a banner ad is a very different form of marketing than native ads, and it isn’t going away any time soon. Many websites still use banners very successfully, but you do need to target your advertising.
Most marketing experts agree that native ads are the wave of the future. Users typically engage more with native ads, and because the ads differ from company to company, it’s much harder to ignore the messages they deliver. According to Digiday, one of the killers of banner ads was the advent of the smartphone. Banners did not appear as well as they did on the computer, making them nearly obsolete in this age of increasing focus on mobile marketing.
Even LinkedIn is jumping on the bandwagon with their new app, Elevate, which makes it easier for employees of a company to share content provided by the employer. Customers tend to trust information that looks more natural and is shared by an individual, as opposed to by a branded avatar. It’s always been important to take note of what your customers are looking for, and targeted native advertising makes this all the more essential.
Native ads are much more user-friendly, and they increase the trust your customers place in your brand. They also display just as well on mobile devices as they do from desktop computers without any additional design features, unlike banner ads. The important thing to note is that your business cannot ignore what its consumers want, which is quality and relevance to their own needs. The important thing is to give your readers something of real value to them. Once you have their attention, they will listen and you can move them through the sales funnel.