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By Laura Bakopolus Goldstone.

B2B thought leadership needs to be supported by sponsored content

You probably engage with sponsored content several times each day and don’t even realize it — which means it’s working as intended.

Sponsored content uses native advertising to deliver companies’ content to their intended audiences on platforms where they are already engaged. Over the last few years, native advertising has cut through the noise of a seemingly saturated digital ad industry.

While all ads promote a visual representation of a brand with some corresponding message, native advertising takes the ad a step further by amplifying thought leadership in a place where the reader is actively going to seek out new information. Instead of the advertiser pushing ads onto audiences, ads are placed within publications audience members already visit and enjoy, increasing the likelihood that the ad will resonate with the reader.

It’s no surprise that sponsored content through native advertising yields an increase in brand affinity and purchase intent. As a proven way to resonate with audiences, sponsored content could be the answer B2B advertisers have been seeking.

A primer in native advertising, content’s best complement

Sponsored content is backed by native advertising, which is a form of digital advertising that places paid ads within the format of a webpage, mimicking its style and user experience. Native ads are clearly labeled “sponsored” or “paid,” but because their subject matter tends to align with that of the article on the page, audience members tend not to mind that they are reading ads — a feat the digital advertising industry has always sought to achieve.

Instead of simply being glossed over, the text on the ad is highly likely to be read — not just seen. Because native ads are placed within an article, the reader has already read several lines before his eyes reach the ad. Therefore, the reader is already in the habit of reading lines from left to right and the native ad’s headline fits right into that pattern. In fact, reading a native advertisement yields 308 times more consumer attention than processing image content, resulting in increased brand recall and a higher likelihood that the brand’s message will resonate with the reader.

Native advertising is extremely valuable to B2B marketers because it supports thought leadership. It takes a content asset that has been strategically crafted with the target audience in mind and it creates a figurehead for that asset in the form of a native advertisement. That ad is then placed in front of viewers in places they prefer to engage, increasing the likelihood of a positive experience with the brand.

In essence, native is more about the content than just brand awareness. It is about an idea resonating with someone more than it is about a brand’s graphic looking appealing. And when we connect over an idea rather than a look, the connection is more meaningful and more likely to last.

If content is king, then native advertising is the megaphone that amplifies its message to the masses.

Choosing the right partner

Marketers see value in running sponsored content through social networks and other experienced publishers. However, they may find themselves going up against walled gardens that are hard to scale or report on; as such, brands should inquire about scaling and analytics capabilities prior to deploying native ads with a tech vendor. If reaching your audience at scale and knowing how well your campaigns ran are important factors in understanding how native advertising fuels your business goals, then these two elements may be key differentiators when choosing the best technology company to deploy your sponsored content.

If your technology vendor offers both, native advertising can also be paired with display advertising to enhance engagement and achieve more than 18 percent higher lift in purchase intent, 9 percent lift in brand affinity, and 200 percent more visual focus as editorial headlines. Utilizing both forms of advertising can provide a stronger approach than only leveraging one.

Advertisers may also find that diversifying their media plan will strengthen their offering by providing them with a customized, best-of-breed option. Complementing existing native advertising efforts with other sponsored content solutions can contribute to a well-rounded ad campaign that will expand the reach of your most valuable content among your highest valued business audience members.

By supporting existing campaigns with sponsored content, B2B advertisers can position themselves as thought leaders among their target business audiences while increasing the likelihood of resonating on a deeper level and improving brand affinity. Implementing this approach will put B2B advertisers in front of their customers in a more positive light and will likely fuel longer term relationships, thus improving business outcomes for all involved.

By Laura Bakopolus Goldstone

Manager of content marketing, AdDaptive Intelligence

Sourced from DIGIDAY