3 Reasons No One Reads Your Native Content

Publishing engaging content is sort of like coaching an NFL team: It looks real easy from your armchair, but it’s a lot harder once you’re down on the field.

Despite the growing investment in native advertising, brands continue to struggle to find the right content partners to help them grow. Only one in three people who click on native advertising engages with it for more than 15 seconds, according to Chartbeat. Visitors to sponsored posts are twice as likely to leave without scrolling down the page. That’s a real problem for brands who want to integrate their message into an editorial context—if nobody’s sticking with your post, nobody’s getting to your message.

“In general, the native stuff has a very short lifespan,” Josh Schwartz, chief data scientist at Chartbeat, told Digiday earlier this year. “I can probably count on one hand the number of pieces that were native that actually got large amounts of organic traffic. So the onus is on the publishers to drive the traffic. That is in contrast to a typical news outlet — it gets picked up by Google news and Drudge and some social pickup. That’s one of the challenges of scaling it.”

Here are 3 factors that separate those who just do it from those who do it well.

1. Know the Space You’re In. General interest sites pose particular challenges because even the editors who work there don’t always know what will drive open rates and shares. The difference is that they get to keep throwing darts at the dartboard day after day. Marketers don’t. Understand the exact editorial space you’re in, and deploy the same editorial values that brought eyeballs to the space in the first place. Which means…

2. Soft-brand your branded content. As Matthew Flamm explains in AdAge, media purists may decry the presence of branded content, but so do readers. A study released Wednesday by content marketing startup Contently found that 59% of consumers feel a news site loses credibility if it runs branded content, and 2/3 say they are less likely to click on a branded article.

3. Deploy editors. Have a very clear editorial purpose that’s defined by an editorial team on-site at the publisher you’re working with. Sites like Upworthy, which does mission-based publishing, deploys their own editorial team to partner with brands to create native content.

Galvanized Rule: Marketers build content around products. Editors work products into content. And readers know the difference.