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How to use Native Advertising to Boost B2B PR

Every PR professional will recognise that sometimes you can craft the perfect pitch and still fail to get coverage.

Getting B2B PR coverage is even harder nowadays because reporters often cover multiple stories and are inundated with requests for coverage that may mean they miss yours. On top of this, the pressure to deliver quantifiable results from B2B PR means you’ve got your work cut out!

And if you rely entirely on earned media you could be making things even harder for yourself. In this post, Will Haswell, Business Development Manager at Adzooma explains how you can use native advertising to reach a wider audience.


What is native advertising?

Native ads can be thought of as a toned down version of advertorials, which tend to be more overt about the fact they are selling a product. Rather than being largely sales orientated, native ads aim to be useful, or at least entertaining, much like a typical piece of content, except this time you pay to be published.

Their look and feel emulates the editorial style of the site they are published on but they carry a label like ‘Sponsored Content’ to distinguish them from other articles. Their editorial nature makes them less intrusive than other types of online advertising, so they are less likely to irritate users, or be ignored entirely.


The rise of native advertising 

Media and marketing professionals predict that native advertising is set to grow in the coming years. Eric Fulwiler, executive director at VaynerMedia in the UK, says he expects native advertising to go mainstream this year. And a Native ad report from Business Insider, predicts that native display ad revenue in the US will make up 21% of the total US display ad revenue by 2021. 

A number of factors are likely to drive this rise in native advertising, such as publishers who need a new revenue stream to counteract the decline in traditional advertising. Brands also need a new way to reach consumers who are ignoring their adverts.


PR and native advertising go hand in hand 

So, how can PR professionals gain from the rise in native advertising and why should they? 

According to a 2016 survey of 75 of the UK’s leading PR agencies, carried out by The Internet Advertising Bureau, 90% of PR pros view native ads as an opportunity for them.  As much as 75% of the professionals who were surveyed went as far as to say PR should lead native ad programs. And why wouldn’t they? After all, the skills required for native advertising and PR overlap in many respects. PR professionals are well placed to create effective native ads by simply doing what they do best - make engaging content. Besides identifying a compelling story angle, both disciplines need you to be clear about what audience you are going after and via what publication you are best to reach them. 

One of the challenges faced by advertising is being able to present your brand in a credible way that gains the trust of your audience. Since PR pros are in the business of managing reputations, they can make sure native ads are pitched at the right level to maintain brand credibility.

Some PR professionals may see native advertising as a rival to earned media but by being strategic, the two forms of coverage can complement one another. If you are struggling to get earned coverage in a particular area, for instance, you might choose to use native ads instead. B2B PR often involves reaching several decision makers and influencers, so you need to vary your approach if you are ever going to reach them all.

Just because native PR is paid for, it doesn’t have to represent a lesser form of coverage either. Native advertising could even be viewed as more credible because it requires full disclosure about the commercial origins of the content. Both the Federal Trade Commission in the US and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) in the UK have issued transparency guidelines for native advertising. This includes using labels such as ‘Sponsored Content’, ‘Paid For’ or ‘Brought to you by’, which all make it instantly clear to the audience that they are reading an advert.

Just because readers know it is an advert, it doesn’t mean they will instantly be turned off. Research by the IAB found that users are receptive to sponsored content if it is relevant, authoritative and trustworthy. To make native ads work for you, you need to work closely with your clients and publishers to ensure you are offering credible content that is presented in line with the latest advertising guidelines.


What next?

If you are a PR pro looking to use native advertising, you need to have an honest discussion with your client about your budget requirements and the benefits of native advertising. You also need to choose your publisher wisely and understand their pricing structure to make sure you are getting value for money.

Then simply use your PR skills to be strategic about your native advertising and you could open up a whole new avenue of opportunities!