The media landscape is always changing, leaving brand managers with the option of adapting or getting left behind. Although press releases, MAT releases and pitches still have a place, native ads and branded content are taking center stage. Although these initiatives may be innovative and captivating, they also can include a hefty price tag. Prices can range from $5K to $500K+. This warrants the question: Is it worth forking over that much cash to grab attention?
Despite offering literally life-changing messages, health care organizations, like nearly everyone else, compete for media space. With drug announcements, new devices, patient stories and more fighting for attention, getting a message to stand out is far from easy. A strong social media strategy and innovative tactics that can cut through the clutter are crucial.
Native ads, sponsored posts and media partnerships are taking over much of the real estate of today’s mainstream news outlets. If you haven’t noticed it—that’s the point. Native content is designed to complement the outlet’s tone, feeling authentic, not distracting. In fact, native ads work so well that 53 percent of consumers are reading these more frequently than paid display ads, a study says. It also notes consumers look at native content more than editorial content.
Native ads can be a great way to get in front of a targeted audience. Brands control the messaging and timing of publication, which is typically not the case with earned media.
Similar to earned media, though, a native placement is useless if the reader isn’t consuming the content and staying engaged. What does a successful native ad look like? It taps into the heart of journalism and tells a story that resonates, speaking directly to readers’ interests.
Cancer Research UK partnered on a native ad with BuzzFeed. In true Buzzfeed listicle fashion, it poked fun at sunbathing and centered on contrasting expectations with reality. The ad encourages people to protect themselves while enjoying the sun. It formatted the images and captions in a humorous way Buzzfeed fans immediately recognized and appreciated.
In another example, a monthlong partnership between Melanoma Know More and lifestyle outlet PopSugar turned every period throughout various health articles into a popup tip for spotting skin cancer. The goal was to encourage readers to “Get checked. Period.” It worked for three reasons:
- Readers were already interested in wellness because they were visiting the health section of the site.
- The periods offered interaction that surprised and intrigued readers.
- The stories were authentic to PopSugar because the articles would have existed with or without the partnership.
While a successful native ad campaign will look different for each brand, the road to success is paved with best practices. Both the Cancer Research UK and the Melanoma Know More media partnerships hinged on their ability to deliver quality content that resonated with their readers.
Before deploying a native ad campaign, ask the following questions:
- Is this compelling content?
- Is there synergy between the brand and selected media partner?
- Is this the best platform to reach out audiences?
- Is there something inviting, interesting or inspiring in the piece?
- Is this a story we would expect from the desired media partner?
If the answer is “yes” to all of the above, the next step is to decide the method of delivery. This is where brands have the opportunity to think creatively, push boundaries and form unlikely partnerships to intrigue and delight their audiences.
Although having virtually endless ways to tell a story may seem overwhelming, organizations can be encouraged by the knowledge that they have more roads to success in reaching audiences than ever before.
Vanessa Donohue is a healthcare account supervisor at Antenna Group. With nearly a decade of experience working in agency and corporate PR, she has managed and executed a wide variety of media-focused campaigns for Fortune 500 companies and startups alike.