​Marketers are experimenting and embracing native advertising. Most gauge success by engagement metrics.

​Clever marketing speaks to prospects without seeming spammy or forced. Many brands experiment with various channels to discover what touch points resonate with their target audience, which birth new promotional practices. For example, native advertising can be classified as a form of content marketing, and stricter guidelines have pushed the strategy into the limelight. In fact, the Online Publishers Association (OPA) notes that 73 percent of surveyed U.S. publishers have native ad strategies in place for their sites. Only 10 percent of polled brands don’t dedicate resource to this emerging practice.

The study also tried to define native advertising to gauge how the current marketing landscape views the initiative. Ninety-three percent of publishers described native advertising as “integration into the design of the publisher’s site and lives on the same domain.” More, 86 percent said it was “content produced in conjunction with the advertiser, or by the advertiser, that runs within the editorial stream.”

Marketers also set unique goals for their native ad campaigns – most grade their efforts by engagement and traffic metrics. Far fewer evaluate their successes through social shares, meaning creatives put a high priority on crafting interactive online content that fuels deeper action compared to more social-driven media.

Brands must be aware of how native advertising continues to evolve as more companies roll out their own campaigns. Google’s Matt Cutts warns digital marketers to clearly label their native ads as such, or be removed for Google News. Because only 5 percent of Americans can recognize native ads, there’s reason to believe some marketers will disguise their outright promotional copy as organic web content. Google looks to limit this action as much as possible, so consumers understand that what they’re reading is an advertisement, and base their future decisions on that realization.

Ted Karczewski is an Executive Communications Associate at Brafton. He works to develop his own voice and apply his passions to the evolving world of SEO and content marketing, but he doesn't shy away from writing for fun. After graduating from Suffolk University, Ted used his Communications degree to test out Sports Journalism before Marketing at Brafton.