One thing we know is that when it comes to online content, the lines are blurring. There’s a lot of budget available from brands and the media, content, advertising and PR sectors are all clamouring for a larger slice of the pie.
Native advertising, where ads and branded content appear in-feed like editorial articles, is one of those pies – and a pretty juicy one. PR firms have a great opportunity in this space, as they’re about generating ideas and content designed to catch the eye and win the heart. This is what native advertising relies on.
Furthermore, it’s a way for PR firms to show their worth by working around the creativity gap that is currently stifling online advertising. Display ads, creatively speaking, aren’t necessarily the best places to deliver content. Simple banners and 300x250 boxes are hardly going to appeal to modern, sophisticated consumers, who want in-depth and immersive written words, videos and interactivity.
In fact, we recently commissioned some research among media agencies that was conducted by FaR Partners: two-thirds (65 per cent) agreed that native addressed the creativity challenge in the digital ad market generally and 64 per cent thought it solved the creativity gap in advertising on mobile devices (where display is even weaker).
Yes, it’s paid-for space, but in a similar way to how PRs already promote content via Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites for their clients. It’s simply been extended to enviable publisher environments.
Native advertising also allows PRs to take the content they’ve built and share it beyond just that first piece of editorial. An article in the print edition of The Daily Telegraph or Stylist can’t really be employed elsewhere, but a great piece of online coverage or content on their own websites can be distributed via native advertising to other publishers that target similar key audiences and used to drive further views. In short, native advertising is a great way to extend the reach of positive PR coverage.
But perhaps most importantly, native and content strategies allow PR agencies to take their ideas further. It’s an opportunity for the creative minds behind some of the very best communication strategies to extend their reach and deepen the relationship they have with those businesses. PRs understand content and often immerse themselves in their clients' products and services to a far higher degree than other agencies are required to; and this is where the opportunity exists.
But, time is of the essence and everyone wants in. PRs are fighting agencies in every other creative and media sector to try to manage their clients’ content and native plans. Those that are quick off the mark – and show that they have the creative nous to back it up – are set to reap some very impressive rewards.
Francis Turner is UK managing director of native advertising platform Adyoulike