Announced late last year, the Federal Trade Commission has started to watch the way advertisers work online, especially as their methods relate to native advertising. While this has some brands concerned — perhaps you’re one of them — maybe there is a need for a perspective shift to something different, something that has withstood the test of time. What is that something? It’s brand storytelling, and it beats native advertising every single time.
Native advertising takes traditional advertising and attempts to disguise it as something else, as a “native” of whatever site it lives on. To some, it’s disruptive; to others, it’s manipulative.
While the term may be new to you, the method is not, in fact, you’ve probably considered it. However, even if you haven’t, you have been exposed to it. Native advertising looks like any other post on a website, especially a social media network. It could be considered content shared by friends on the surface, but, a closer look will reveal its origin. Check out the graphic below for a native advertising example.
See that post from Diamond Candles? Notice how it’s in the main newsfeed, not with the ads on the right hand side? It looks like it could be posted by a friend, right? Look closer; more specifically, check out the “Sponsored” notation in gray under the brand’s name. That is an example of native advertising. Other examples include promoted Twitter tweets, blog posts and featured YouTube videos.
Brand storytelling, on the other hand, is in direct contrast with native advertising. Using more transparent methods, brands are able to tell stories, frequently in a news format, that promote their services or products. They demonstrate best product uses or solutions the brand may have to offer in a way that is woven together in a story format that, if done correctly, will illicit an emotional response from the audience.
Not sure how it works? Check out The Green Schoolhouse Series, promoting Empire-CAT’s renewable energy project. Bringing together a press release, a tangible storyline and an example of a product in action, Empire-CAT uses storytelling to market their brand in a natural, flowing way. Because of their storytelling efforts, the company managed to turn one environmentally sustainable elementary school in Phoenix, AZ into a nationwide project that is rebuilding hundreds of low-income schools. This is brand storytelling at its best.
Why Brand Storytelling Wins…Every Single Time
While both of these methods have advantages, especially that of not appearing to be a traditional advertisement, there’s a definite disadvantage to native advertising: a lack of connection that leads to a feeling of disenchantment or irritation.
When customers feel deceived, they’re likely to associate those negative feelings with the brand in question. It makes sense — why would you want to do business with a company that had to trick you to bring you to their site?
Brand storytelling, on the other hand, allows for connections. Less transparent than traditional advertising but still authentic and clear in its intentions, the method allows potential customers and clients to become a part of the bigger picture, to understand what’s happening and to want to learn more. It allows for engagement.
It fits in with where the online world is moving. Social media is the most popular activity online with over 55% of Americans participating on one network or another. Why? It’s because they’re looking to connect. People want to be a part of the world around them, starting online. They want to connect and to learn before making decisions. Most importantly, they want to be a part of something more.
Brand storytelling puts these desires and needs at the forefront while offering a creative form of advertising that can be carried out by any brand looking to make a splash. Sure, native advertising may become less and less popular as regulations increase, but there’s no need to worry – brand storytelling is here to stay.