Native Advertising: Study Shows Quality Content Builds Trust

Native advertising has – for better or worse – emerged as a popular advertising tool over the past few years. Media companies large and small have begun to open up their news feeds to content-based native advertising on behalf of brands. Some – the largest media brands – are even charging upwards of $100,000 for a native advertising campaign.

Back in May, we dedicated a post to answering the question “What is Native Advertising?” There, we talked about what qualifies as native, how native ads are distributed, and the different formats.

New research, however, necessitates a return to the subject.

Contently’s New Research

Contently, a content marketing software and services company, conducted a study about native advertising. In the study, they surveyed 509 male and female consumers of various ages – all over 18 – about how readers interpret native advertising.

Some of their biggest takeaways revolve around how people identify native advertising, whether or not they can identify the brand associated with the article/ad, and the implications for media brands. However, that’s not what we’re looking at.

Let’s look at a takeaway buried deep in their research.

According to Contently’s survey, consumers who read native ads identified as high quality reported a significantly higher level of trust for the sponsoring brand.



As evidenced by the graph above, Whole Foods, MiracleGro, and Raymond James had the highest quality native ads. After Raymond James, there is a noticeable 21% drop for the next highest advertiser (Four Loko).


It’s in this graph we see a pattern begin to form.

As you can see above, brands with high quality native advertising saw a big spike in their trust, with little negative impact, if any at all. On the other hand, those brands with low quality native advertising pieces saw the opposite – a negative impact with very little positive.

An interesting note for recruiters: Whole Foods native ad, a listicle of “5 Reasons Why It’s Great to Work at Whole Foods,” was a recruiting-related article. Instead of advertising their brand for consumers, they’re trying to attract top talent. Featured on Fortune, it delivered a 27% increase in the people who indicated trust for the brand. In other words, creating quality native advertising in front of drivers could be a game changer for fleets.

Native advertising can build your brand among consumers and job seekers.

The Impact

As it turns out, the execution of native advertising has a huge impact on trust. While many consumers might actually indicate they don’t trust native advertising as a concept, that isn’t quite true when it comes to viewing individual ads.

HubSpot actually agrees on this point, but from a different viewpoint. You can take a look at their infographic about the science of native advertising here.

What does that mean for you? Simple, your approach to native advertising should be similar to your approach to content marketing.

The key to great native advertising is quality content.

This is a more important concept than ever. Remember where your audience is coming from. They’ve found your native ad in the news feed of a premium industry news site. Your title was obviously interesting and appealing. Now you have to deliver on your title’s promise.

Native advertising is an opportunity to establish yourself as an industry thought leader by appealing to your prospects and customers’ pain points. You know the problems they face. It’s your job to create content that provides unique insight and helps them address those problems. In some cases, you might not even mention your product or service.

Your product doesn’t always have to be front and center.

Even if you don’t mention a specific product or service, it’s ok. You’re influencing one of the most important metrics in marketing: trust. If your audience trusts you to give them honest, insightful, and helpful information, they’re more likely to buy from you.

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