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Melt Digital
April 11, 2014

Is native advertising bad for bloggers?

Native advertising is nothing new, but it is getting ever more topical in the digital marketing space as brands look to new and better ways of gaining brand and content exposure and engagement.

Without going into the definition, native advertising is often broken out into three key areas:

  1. In feed social ads – e.g. the promoted content that appears in Facebook newsfeeds and twitter promoted tweets.
  2. Recommended content – e.g. content recommendations that appear at the foot of some publications content, taboola etc.
  3. Paid inclusion – e.g. content that appears on publications and blogs that has been created to appear as part of the normal content found on that site, sponsored articles and posts.

With respect to this post and the implications for bloggers we’re going to look at the paid inclusion part of native advertising.

Native advertising in most cases appears on personal blogs as sponsored content. It is created in a way to fit the subject and writing style of the blog identified to receive the sponsored content. Essentially, it is content delivered to look like a normal post found on that blog, or, content that looks native to the blog.

The benefits for a brand to commit to native advertising on carefully selected blogs are clear; the content they create will be well considered and crafted for a ready-made audience, which should naturally lead to a nice chunk of engagement on that post. With the benefit for the brand of being in the spotlight in a positive way and receiving referral traffic and search traffic off the back of this placement.

But is this set up win-win for all?

Brands have identified a blog to go to with sponsored content because that blogger over time has built up an engaged following of readers. They’ve achieved this as a result of creating independently written, provocative (relative to subject) content. So when a blogger becomes open to featuring sponsored content they enjoy a new revenue source, but does this undermine their integrity as an independent blogger with unbiased opinions?

Ensuring the content is properly labelled and the relationship between the blogger and the brand is delivered with transparency will less alarm or alienate their readership. This will also ensure there’s no nasty shock from Google with regards to penalty actions for unnatural outbound links.

Sharpened content outreach:

As SEO has evolved, the subtlety of content syndication and the motives behind it have evolved too. Where only a year ago, placing content on ‘carefully identified’ blogs (infer: ‘blogs with a high DA and some kind of relevance to the brand I’m looking to promote’) was done so primarily for SEO link building purposes. When it came down to it, it didn’t really matter much about the quality of the content, as long as it was written well. Typically, it wasn’t content that gave the reader anything new or profound.

Is this now just a refinement of content outreach, with an acceptance of the dangers of pushing thin content for link building? If done correctly, content promotion via native advertising could push up the quality of guest content around the web.

Do it well:

No doubt paid inclusion has its place in the content promotion arena, and will become even more practiced. If done correctly on all sides it should lead to better content generation around the web and benefits for both brands and bloggers.

  • Brands have their content and offering in front of the right audience
  • Bloggers are compensated for this service, allowing them to maintain income from blogging (where most likely revenue streams from link building posts may dry up)

Our recommendations:

  1. Have the blog and blogger at the forefront of content creation, discuss and plan what works well for their readership.
  2. Match what resonates well with their readers with what fits with your brand.
  3. Keep an open dialogue to finalise the content.
  4. Give promotion to the content the host blog via brand social media channels, providing additional benefits to the blogger.
  5. Mark the content as sponsored, ensuring the readers are well informed and maintaining trust in the bloggers integrity.
  6. Don’t shy away from having no-followed links – native advertising is about brand and content promotion, not direct link building.

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