The term Native Content is not new but with the growth and increasing popularity of digital media, terms such as Digital storytelling, Video Contenting and Native Contenting have been placed under the limelight.
Simply put, native content is placing a piece of content that has been commissioned or paid for on an external website with the view that the content fits the form and function of where it exists without interrupting the user experience. The term “native” refers to the seamless integration of that piece of content with the host media’s content.
The salient points for native contenting include that is designed to fit in with the publishers style, it is created or curated for the audience and it is placed on an external media.
Though closely related, native contenting should not be confused with content marketing in that while native contenting is paid for in terms of media space, content marketing is not paid for as content marketing is usually hosted on the media space of the host brand . Also native contenting does not disrupt the user experience unlike content marketing which while providing invaluable non promotional content on the hosts’ promotional & branded media space – causes some level of disruption (though of the positive kind).
Both are similar in that they intended to be non promotional in nature and they provide relevant content to their audience. Examples of native contenting include letters to the editor, sponsored blog posts, sponsored FB updates, sponsored Twitter feeds, paid SEO and commentary while content marketing include videos, podcasts, infographics and articles hosted on the host brand’s media space.
Native contenting has its origins in native advertising which grew in 2014 and is a response to the failure rate of banner adverts. Advertisers saw that their banner ads had a very low engagement rate and sought a means to create and showcase content which did not disrupt the user experience and would seamlessly blend in with the style and flow of the host media. They also sought to put out content which would not come out as overtly promotional and put off the audience, thus native advertising was born and from there, Native contenting- an all encompassing term to cover all types of native inclined promotion ( not limited to advertising) was established.
According to Hexagram’s State of Native Advertising report, 62% of publishers and media companies offer some kind of native content program while 66% of brands create their own content for native advertising (otherwise the publishers help out to ensure that the content is in sync with their in – house style). The most popular forms of native advertising are sponsored blog posts (65%), sponsored articles (63%) and Facebook sponsored updates (56%).
Native contenting is growing as a part of content marketing because media brands and social platforms (like LinkedIn and Facebook) are aggressively offering native contenting packages. Also, brands now spend approximately 25- 30 % of their budget on content marketing initiatives. Brands have started to make this a priority, so native contenting is seen as a viable opportunity.
Great examples of native contenting abound. One of which have is the Netflix article in The New York Times. The New York Times launched its sponsored content in January 2014, and the publication has become an example of how to present native advertising. The article titled “Women Inmates: Separate But Not Equal,” published in August 2014, is a paid post to promote the release of the second season of the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black.” The article discussed the many problems faced by women in prison, how incarceration affects their families and how the prison reforms affect them- all mostly issues that are highlighted in the popular series.
Also is the SB Nation which published “First & Long,” a sponsored section (for Nike) featuring six NFL athletes who return to their high schools for summer training. Each athlete created a video pep talk encouraging young athletes to keep pushing themselves. Furthermore, MasterCard and Mashable worked together to release a graphic-heavy article on how people use their mobile devices and how our relationships with our devices have changed. The sponsored post includes a large section at the beginning of the post detailing MasterCard’s digital payment system.
Some subtle forms of Native Contenting have been employed in Nigerian films. In Kunle Afolayan’s CEO, Wale Ojo speaks about Adron Homes & Properties- a real estate housing scheme for low and medium income earners where people can pay for a piece of land within a 2 – 4 year period. Again in Funke Akindele’s Jennifer’s diaries, Adaku is portrayed as a schemer who uses people’s money as an investment into a microfinance bank with the hope of making a quick ROI within the shortest possible time. This is a smart employ of native contenting by this bank.
In summary, while marketing professionals agree that native contenting does have its merits, research shows that content marketing impacts more on key performance metrics and has a higher overall ROI than native advertising or native contenting.
Amaka Olukoya is the Chief Content Curator Purple Pens Nigeria- A content curation and storytelling boutique.