Many brands have started to take a more integrated approach to advertising that involves combining social, content and brand promotion.
This approach is referred to as native advertising and it’s when ads are camouflaged to match the website or social media feed they are placed on. There are a number companies that aim to help marketers with their native advertising efforts that include San Francisco based ShareThrough.
Patrick Keane is the president of ShareThrough, he spoke with CMSWire about native advertising and what his company does for its clients.
A New Kind of Ad
Before looking at what ShareThrough does there has to be more detailed explanation of what native advertising is and why it has become an important part of the advertising industry.
Historically advertisements are designed to draw a person's attention and make them interested in a product or service. On websites and social pages these ads take the form of, among other things, pop-up ads, banner ads and 30 second commercial clips. According to Keane these online ads are considered a distraction and intrusive because they take a viewer away from the webpage they clicked on. In turn, this can hurt a business' revenue and campaign efforts, instead of helping them.
With native advertising, the ad content isn't ‘front and center," it’s blended in with the page’s surroundings or newsfeed, much like product placement on television shows or movie,s and doesn't take anything away from the the visitor experience.
Native advertising is a kind of advertising that I would say is a subset of content marketing,” said Keane. "It’s advertising that takes on the form and function of an individual site either on desktop or mobile and is a way for advertisers to reach consumers in a non-interruptive, more conversational way."
ShareThrough: Analytics, Mobile and Native Ads
After its launch in 2008, ShareThrough focused on spreading its client’s videos across social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, but with advertisers moving away from the traditional advertising model, ShareThrough expanded its offerings.
We work with publishers and advertisers. Our real-time template technology automatically adds the ad’s information onto the social site,” said Keane. “It allows publishers to offer a more seamless advertising experience [to the visitor].”
More specifically, ShareThrough starts by taking ‘branded content’, such as a video, sponsored post or infographic and works with the website publishers to adapt the ad’s content to fit the site’s design. This can include matching a website’s coloring, font size or font type. The kind of webpages that ads can be added to include social newsfeeds, galleries, blogs and games. For example, on a newsfeed an ad can appear as a sponsored story, but look like a regular post from a person’s follower list so that customers still see the ad, but don't have to take their attention away from the site.
The red box shows how the ad is place within a newsfeed
Another Sharethrough feature is ShareThrough Mobile, which was launched in May. Since many customers browse sites on their tablet and smartphone devices, ShareThrough needed to make sure ads could reach their intended audience. With ShareThrough Mobile, ads can be added to apps and mobile sites as sponsored stories. As with the desktop version of Sharethrough the ad will adapt to match the site's look and feel.
ShareThrough also offers its clients analytics tracking through the ShareThrough HQ dashboard.
It looks very similar to a lot of dashboards you see for publishers, networks and ad distribution platforms,” said Keane. “We built it around strong analytics and strong metrics because we know it’s one of the most tangible mediums to understand customers, so we need to be able to offer that to advertisers.”
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