Native Advertising | Can small business take advantage of this trend?

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Is native advertising a worthwhile marketing approach for small business or is it something that should be left to the big brands?

‘Native Advertising’ is a marketing approach that you may not know by name but would have been exposed to every day in a myriad of ways.

Often described as the ‘seamless blending of content marketing and advertising’, it refers to sponsored content that has the same look and feel as the non-sponsored content around it.

While ‘Advertorials’, ‘Sponsored Content’ ‘Infomercials’ and  ‘Special Promotions’ have been around for eons, Native Advertising takes it to a new level by focussing on telling a story and in many cases not even mentioning the company or product behind the content. The actual advertising may instead be presented as an image, logo or banner referring to the product or service.

The emphasis is on producing marketing content that is interesting and enjoyable rather than being an ‘in-your-face’ product or service promotion.

Common formats include:

  • In-feed ads that appear as sponsored content on news outlets and social media
  • Paid search results, such as those listed at the top of search engine results for certain keywords.
  • Recommendation widgets that appear in other articles as ‘Recommended for you…’ or ‘You may also like…’
  • Sponsored articles such as guest blogs placed on a website by a brand, such as insider tips or thought leadership.

According to the experts, messages creatively presented in these formats are credible, less invasive and more likely to engage consumers.

It is no surprise that its popularity is spreading. Globally, The Sydney Morning Herald reports 62% of publishers use native advertising, and 41% of brands currently use it.1

Corporate brands spend a lot of money on Native Advertising concepts primarily with the aim of ‘going viral’. A notable example was the ‘Guy finds his house plumbed with beer” video from a few years ago – actually created by Saatchi & Saatchi for a New Zealand beer company. Dove was also on the right track with its  ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ ad – officially one of the most watched in the world – because it told an interesting story rather than being overtly salesy.

An honourable mention also goes to the following Microsoft sponsored video that went viral last year:


However, as a small business, you don’t have to have a lot of money to produce something clever and appealing. One of Infodec’s favourites is the Australian Taxation Office’s Your Superannuation Explained, But With Dogs. Another great example is Connoisseur ‘Brand Discover’ The Sydney Morning Herald articles.

Check out some of the advertisers on Buzzfeed – like Maggi and their recipe inspired quizzes – for some great ideas on writing content that doesn’t need to break the budget.

5 Top Native Advertising Tips

  1. As with all marketing, take the time to understand your audience and then determine the right platforms to reach them. Those aged 18–30 are particularly tuned into Native Advertising. There is research readily available, such as the Sensis Social Media Report that will give you some great insights into who is using what.
  2. You will need to adapt your message to the correct format. For example if you want to use social media, a message on Twitter needs to crafted very differently from one that is suitable for Facebook or Instagram.
  3. The content needs to inform or assist your intended audience – a digital version of customer service. Try not to be blatantly self-serving. People will remember you and view you positively if you have helped them in some way.
  4. Consider how you could creatively convey your message. A series of photos may be the correct format or an article that tells an interesting story that relates to your company or product may be the way to go. Go for intriguing and colourful.
  5. Don’t try to trick or mislead the reader. Make sure it is clearly paid advertising by using suitable wording, i.e. ‘Brought to you by…’ or by using a product photo, company logo or banner. This ensures the reader has the choice to learn more about what you are offering and will interact with you in a positive way. And it also keeps you out of trouble with the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission.

Each member of Infodec Communications is an experienced and creative storyteller who is well-versed in writing to specific platforms and formats. Contact us on (02) 9531 5595 to find out how we can help you with your Native Advertising needs.


  1. http://www.smh.com.au/brand-discover/outbrain_2/native-advertising/#.WE9J3_l96Uk