Published: Dec 08, 2017
Updated: Jan 03, 2018

The Importance of Native Advertising for Content Creators

Author: Christy Roland

Native advertising occurs when an advertisement seems to seamlessly fit into the program. For example, when I am watching the “Walking Dead“ they often have commercials with zombies. That is, the ad matches the design, tone, and plot of the content that are associated with. Now, it should be no surprise that these ads tend to be effective—so much so that there are regulations to protect against deceptive advertising. This form of advertising works because the ads are perceived as having the trust and authority of the content it is embedded in.

Native ads cover a range of mediums, but this will focus on those used with native video.

This is sometimes confused with content advertising—for example, where there may be product placement in the content. Reality shows like those with that feature cooking tend to use this often. These often relate well to viewers even when the placement is very obvious. In contrast, native advertising tends to be more subtle and needs much more thought.

Most content creators do not dream about creating ads—that is more something for advertising or marketing professionals. However, some of the most challenging work is to tell a story in a short period of time—or integrate the ad content into the show without going too far.

Many top directors got their start in ads. Ridley Scott made the famous Apple Superbowl ad. Spike Lee used to do Jordan Shoe ads for Nike. Alan Parker, Jonathan Glazer, and others also started making commercials. Wes Anderson and David Lynch made commercials after movie success. It can be good opportunity to develop and showcase your skills (particularly with technology)—not to mention make some good money.

family watching TV together
As content evolves and people continue to expect much of it to be free, native advertising inevitably will grow. It will not just grow from perspective of more native within shows, but also due to technology convergence that is enabling companies to better target ads to specific demographics. In some cases content will be funded with the purpose to highlight a brand (similarly to what Hallmark has always done so well for years).

Think about what is happening to the size of audiences. Shows like MASH or the Mary Tyler Moore show use to regularly draw upwards of 40M viewers. Now, it is just the Superbowl that even gets near that and successful shows typically get around 10M viewers. The growth of many cable networks and streaming sites has opened up tons of opportunities for creators which is great—but has also deeply fragmented audiences. As shows have fewer people watching and people are hesitant to pay, ads have to become more effective.

An alternative here is for commercials to use actors who appeal to the content’s demographic and perhaps even reflect the content. These type of commercials may have limited, but can be very effective when matched with the right content.

So how can technology convergence help? There are several ways. First, artificial intelligence can help create more effective content based on response data (that could also be used with content). Essentially, you start with the message and goal, and then several simulations are run to determine which will work best against the target demographic. AI can handle a depth of analysis far beyond what people can.

Demographic data collection also improves with technology—it is easier to track user behavior to under gender, age, location, and interests based on viewing habits. These define traits and lifestyle that can be used to tailor ads (and again, could also be employed when creating any content). A study by the Network Advertising Initiative found that targeted advertising could be 2.7 times as effective. The same precision that applied to online advertising can now apply to TV. Again, as audiences get smaller, these demographic details that can improve monetization (which might even result in fewer ads).

More than this, if creators want, they can create storylines or characters that fit the demographic—and then work with the ad people are creating complementary ads. Consumers like stories in their ads same as they like good stories in the content they want—and creators can help craft those stories.

This is a different way that artificial intelligence might help. If you know the demographic and know their propensities on how they want the story to go or how they expect characters to act, you can make sure your script satisfies them. It can keep users more engaged and provide more predictability on the audience which can further improve the chance to get funded. What can help an add be more effective might in turn make the show better.

Companies like to be associated with high quality content and AI can eventually even perhaps craft storylines or help guide some creative decision to ensure content will be well-received.

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