Ida Vehnämäki 9/28/23 2:50 PM

Native advertising, yuck!

...or perhaps an effective way to get your content seen? Even if it's the best news release or media pitch in the world, it may not pass through the editor's rigorous screening process. In this case, one option is to rely on native advertising. What is native advertising – and why do many people have negative feelings about it?

In simple terms, native advertising is content published in the media that looks like journalism but is paid advertising. So huh? Every one of us has probably come across native advertising when browsing online newspapers: in the middle of a stream of articles, you'll come across headlines with the word "advertising" in them.

As a former hater of native advertising, I can understand anyone who frowns upon the subject. Who on earth would read ads? The answer is: surprisingly many. Indeed, native advertising is an extremely effective way of getting your company or product seen by a wide audience.

If it’s so effective, then why all the controversy? In a nutshell, because it is a paid ad. We Finns are sometimes peculiar about things that have not been acquired organically. We do not want to spend money on social media campaigns, because good content should get clicks and likes without money!

Don't get me wrong: it's extremely cool if a company gets its message in the news in the shape of an article that’s been written by a journalist or if a company's social media post goes viral without a little boost. But we live in an attention economy where better content competes with better content. That means someone will always be overlooked. So why spend time and effort building a meaningless story if it will never see the light of day?

Nail polish on a hangnail

After this spirited defence of native advertising, it must be acknowledged that bad native advertising really does exist. If the headline and the content do not align, traffic will be unlikely. So how do we make native advertising more appealing?

The key to everything is, surprisingly, content. We strongly recommend keeping content that goes into native advertising as journalistic in style as possible. This means, for example, that a press release is not suitable for native advertising as such – even though it may serve as an excellent starting point.

Even if it is an advertisement, the content should not be directly drawn from marketing materials, full of exaggerated praise. The text may well tell you about a great product or service, but it should also reveal who will benefit from it and share practical tips that may not be directly related to what is being promoted. The content should be useful to the reader, adhere to grammatical rules and maintain an engaging style.

Towards practice: on budgeting and channels

How does native advertising work in practice? There are two things you should budget for: content production and the advertising itself. Polished and professional content keeps readers interested, while the media budget helps to ensure visibility.

Once you have your content and media budget in place, it's time to explore the many native advertising options available. First, you can buy native ads directly on a specific media platform. For this, you need to work with a media house. Through Sanoma, for example, you can get your own content in Helsingin Sanomat and through Alma Media in Kauppalehti. So you should also think about who your audience is and choose your target media accordingly.

In addition to media houses, native advertising is also offered by various platforms that operate in both domestic and international media. The Readpeak service, for example, allows you to make your native content visible across multiple Finnish media outlets through a single portal.

Finally, it should be noted that one doesn’t have to love native advertising, but its benefits should not be overlooked either.

Interested? Feel free to contact us. Let's work together, enhance your content and find the best ways to market it!

Photograph: Drew Beamer on Unsplash