Though questions remain about how to define native advertising and use it to reach the right audience, most B2B marketers agree on native advertising's importance, especially as it is replacing traditional advertising.

Defining Native Advertising

Native advertising can be best described as a form of paid media that seamlessly integrates with the form and function of a site to contribute value to the user experience.

Need an example of native advertising? Imagine online ads about the latest in faucet technology running alongside a how-to article about fixing a leaky faucet. You also may see ads for your local home improvement store or handyman beside the article.

Though native advertising now is used by the biggest consumer brands in the world, B2B marketers also have realized that they can use native advertising effectively.

B2B marketers can no longer rely solely on traditional ads.

What About Banner Ads?

In just a few years, banner ads have become ineffective; audiences have been conditioned to tune them out. The efficacy of traditional Internet display advertising, such as banners and pop-up ads, has become almost nonexistent, according to Solve Media.

In 2000, the banner click-through rate was 9%. Currently, it stands at a paltry .2%, plummeting 4,500% in just the past decade.

In contrast, here are some of the latest stats about native advertising from Business Intelligence.

  • 52% of people who click on native ads have purchase intent compared to only 34% for banner ads.
  • 70% want to learn about products through content rather than traditional advertising.
  • 75% of publishers already offer some type of native advertising, with 90% saying they either have or will consider it.

Those statistics show how native advertising can help reach the right audience with the right message at the right time to influence buying behavior.

What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Native Advertising

So, how do you use native advertising the right way? What does a B2B marketer need to know before publishing content and ads on third-party sites?

You need to remember two things:

  1. Placement—Go where your audience lives.
  2. Relevance—Be useful to your audience.


The old joke in the real estate business is that it's all about location, location, location. Similarly, the placement of your native advertising is key to its effectiveness. For example, Relendex, a secured peer-to-peer lending company, was looking for an online vehicle to target its audience and build awareness efficiently. The company wanted to "meet" and educate prospects about the intricacies of funding and investing.

Relendex's strategy [PDF] was to use its existing educational content and partner with Property Week, a commercial property magazine with a large audience of lenders and borrowers—the influencers that Relendex wanted to target. The publication co-branded webpages with Relendex's content using semantic ad targeting technology. It encouraged readers to click on educational links via a "related company sources" widget that led traffic to Relendex's site.

Not only did the links create value for the reader, but the results were astounding. With more than 500,000 branded impressions in just four months, Relendex received more than 3,000 visits from Property Week readers alone. The drive in traffic also helped boost SEO on critical search terms, such as "peer-to-peer lending mortgage," which bumped up to the top 10 rank on Google and positioned Relendex as a thought leader in the industry—all from prioritizing the location of its content.


Placement may be the first key to effective native advertising, but relevance is just as crucial to its success. If the publisher's overall editorial goals are in line with your product or service, then integrating ads or relevant content that enhances the user experience makes sense.

One example of the power of relevance [PDF] comes from a division of Delta Airlines, Delta TechOps, a full-service aviation maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) company. The organization's challenge was not just in being seen as an exclusive maintenance service for Delta Airlines but becoming the premier destination for any airline seeking MRO services. The company created a dedicated site that showcased its solutions and educated other airliners, but it needed a way to bring relevant ads to its audience.

Delta TechOps employed native advertising by targeting Flightglobal, an online news and information provider for the aviation and aerospace industries. Semantic search technology made it possible to create the connection between Flightglobal's articles to Delta TechOps's own related content. That meant users who visited Flightglobal would receive only the most relevant material from Delta TechOps based specifically on what they were reading at that exact moment, lending value to Flightglobal's audience while generating traffic for the Delta TechOps site. In one year, Delta TechOps's content led to a marked increase of 5,400 qualified visits from Flightglobal readers alone.

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Even as native advertising's definition remains opaque, its reach and importance will only increase as the world of B2B advertising shifts and becomes more niche. As a B2B marketer, knowing where to place your ads and how they are relevant to your audience is vital to an ROI-driven strategy.

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image of Helen Grimshaw

Helen Grimshaw is senior vice-president of B2B sales at NTENT, a semantic search technology company delivering cross-channel advertising and content monetization experiences.

LinkedIn: Helen Grimshaw