April 8, 2015

Marketing is a method of persuasion, not trickery


Almost two-thirds of marketers have stated they will be increasing their native advertising budgets in 2015. It’s at the forefront of content marketing and advertising. Ad divisions such as Guardians Labs, built to work with companies to create branded content online, emphasise this growing trend. It is a time of immense intrigue but also one of caution.

Native advertising is the practice of using content to build trust and engagement with potential customers. It matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears. Reuters’ Felix Salmon differentiates sponsored content and native ads, by asserting that “native content tends to aspire more to going viral” and is generally designed to prompt sharing.

YouTube is increasingly filled with native content as brands flock to the hyper engaged audiences. A recent survey by Variety found the top five personalities that US teens are most enamoured with and influenced by are YouTube stars, including the likes of big hitters Smosh. This sits in stark contrast to a recent piece by the Daily Telegraph that finds fault in using these new online stars for marketing purposes.

The ‘Oreo lick race’, which sat across some of the UK’s biggest YouTube channels, marked a significant moment on the video platform. The series saw YouTubers promote the product by performing a licking race. As a consequence of the campaign, the  ASA  released some loose guidelines on branded content that sits on YouTube. They told vloggers it “pays to be honest”.

As a marketing agency and a brand, native advertising is attractive. It creates deep engagement, but where do you draw the line? When does it become too ingrained and un-identifiable as marketing?

Marketing shouldn’t be about tricking the viewer, but more a method of persuasion. One of the most interesting parts of a campaign comes in building a strategy that makes a user want to take part in your campaign.

Attaching trust to a campaign’s content is a useful method to attain this engagement. It is increasingly worthwhile to form multi-media partnerships and collaborate with owners of audiences. This trust ensures that your content retains credibility in the eyes of your target audience, resulting in more engagement. Whether it’s a publication like the Guardian or a vlogger like Zoella, you are buying the trust that they have built with their audience.

Campaigns should be an extension of a marketing strategy that aims to build its own layer of trust with users. Native marketing will increasingly play an important role in achieving this. What marketers and brands must seek to do is learn how to tap into an audience, declare their intentions of marketing towards them (adding the layer of trust) whilst creating that emotional trigger that prompts the viewer to want to engage.

For brands as well as vloggers, it really will pay to be honest.

08.04.15, Sam Boggis-Rolfe, Data Insight Analyst, Livity