There’s a scene in the animated television series Futurama where our stuck-in-the-future protagonist Fry is in the middle of a very common dream: finding himself in class naked and humiliated. However, unlike most of us, in the middle of the dream, he is offered a neat solution by the teacher: Lightspeed briefs! Style and comfort for the discriminating. Upon waking up he is horrified to discover that his dream was, in fact, an ad and advertising for dreams is a very common occurrence in the future:
Leela: Didn't you have ads in the 21st century?
Fry: Well sure, but not in our dreams. Only on TV and radio, and in magazines, and movies, and at ball games... and on buses and milk cartons and t-shirts, and bananas and written on the sky. But not in dreams, no siree.
While marketing and advertising hasn’t advanced to quite this degree yet, technology has allowed marketers to get more creative and ambitious with their reach. One of the more interesting ways in which they can appeal to customers is with native advertising. Native advertising, like Fry’s dream, is about promoting a product in the same style as the medium through which it’s advertised. It’s a powerful way to get a message across, because if it’s done well, it mirrors the same style of the format and therefore will evoke the same sentiments consumers have when they are experiencing the medium. The best ones don’t feel like advertising, they feel like a feature.
Native advertising is hardly a new concept. Ever since we’ve had print media, we’ve had native advertising. However, in the last decade the definition has considerably broadened to encompass social media, video, and cross-platform networks. Even though companies have more avenues to reach consumers in an organic and natural way, creative, excellent native advertising has become more complex and more competitive.
If businesses want to stand out, then they need to be at the forefront of technology, constantly looking to innovatively use platforms in new and exciting ways. Below we’re looking at 3 brands who have embraced these new mediums to create some inspirational native advertising campaigns.
1: Burberry’s sponsored Snapchat Channel
Burberry sponsoring an entire Snapchat Discover Channel was groundbreaking for a luxury brand. The platform itself is a fairly new one and as such, we are just starting to see companies experiment with the form. Burberry upped the ante because normally the platform merely supports a campaign. However in Burberry’s case their new fragrance Mr Burberry had a ‘snapcode’ which directed consumers to their snapchat channel, where they could access Burberry’s snapchat stories, a video directed by Steve McQueen and features grooming tips.
What is also interesting is that they’ve chose the social media site to specifically focus on their men’s fragrance because as UK magazine Campaign Live notes:
‘Fragrances present an opportunity to get young consumers to buy into a luxury brand. But this brilliantly executed campaign also denotes a serious long-term investment in Snapchat from Burberry.’
This is a departure from luxury trends who have tended to snub the platform due to its supposedly inferior production values. What Burberry has proved is that you can still make beautiful, high-quality content on Snapchat, and in the process appeal to a whole new group of potential consumers. The fact that it has also established a great relationship with a platform that is poised for major growth in the next few years is merely the icing on the cake.
2. Netflix’s article in Wired
Netflix is the king of excellent native content. Just check out their promotion for Orange is the New Black in The New York Times and House of Cards in The Atlantic. Last year Netflix created waves again when it published a thought-provoking piece in Wired magazine titled TV got Better. The article focused on the evolving habits of the television viewer and how the culture of binge-watching in particular has changed advertising.
They approached well-known anthropologist and author Grant McCracken to write the article and the result was considered an immersive piece with incredible production values. As the viewer scrolls down they can find interactive graphs, a real-time counter, a filmed interview with Arrested Development creator Mike Hurwitz, and an audio interview with the author of the piece.
The content is such a triumph because it has a lot of value for its target audience. As Howard Mittman, VP-publisher at Wired stated: ‘I think it really achieves our mission of building branded content that's really just great content.’ The message is clear — that Netflix shows are thought-provoking, compelling and watchable. But it is so considered and subtle, that the reader absorbs it slowly rather than being repeatedly beaten over the head with it.
3: Buzzfeed Dunkin’ Donuts: What donut are you?
The click-inducing, fun and funny nature of content powerhouse Buzzfeed makes it an ideal candidate for native advertising. They have created many great campaigns, but a particular favourite was a quiz titled Which Donut are you sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts. The first line of the quiz sums up why the piece is so compelling: YOU HAVE TO KNOW. It’s fun, quick and a great fit for Buzzfeed and you really, really want to have a donut after doing it.
As the above examples show, new platforms can produce some truly outstanding brand moments. They are so successful because they don’t just jump onto technology, they consider how their audience is digesting information on those platforms. If you want to attempt to create great native content you must consider the following:
- The content must come first. Think about how a platform could support the most valuable content, not the other way around
- Make sure that the medium is where your audience is
- Don’t just use a platform for the sake of it. Really think about how it could be used
- The new thing is not necessarily the best thing
- As the Dunkin’ Donuts quiz shows it doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated to be effective
- Look at how other companies are using the technology and ask yourself, how can we do things differently?
As Futurama showed so brilliantly, even if you have the latest, greatest technology, to the point where you literally can get into your consumers head and be the product of their dreams, if the content is clunky and unsubtle, then the message will fall flat. While the medium might change as new platforms enter the market, brilliant, nuanced content is always going to be in vogue no matter what the form.
Hopefully these examples have inspired you to create some excellent native content in new and exciting ways. If you’d like to know more about the latest and greatest in marketing and business technology then have a look at the CeBIT Australia 2016 Digital Marketing Summary Report conference today.