Education marketers have more advertising options than ever. Consequently, educators are deluged with brand messages every day. Emails, sponsored social media content, display ads, retargeting – the list for education marketing goes on. It’s easy to see how educators become fatigued and ignore advertising programs that they feel are disruptive rather than informative.
One strategy for rising above the noise is native advertising. Commonly known as “sponsored content,” native advertising involves partnering with a news organization to place paid content that resembles the media outlet’s regular editorial content and similarly educates readers.
Why Native Ads Work
A familiar gripe about traditional advertising, such as banner ads, is that it’s purely promotional by nature. Success is measured in clicks, which has a different value for some companies. Conversely, native advertising aims to build trust with potential – and current – customers. Think of it as a relationship-based approach, as opposed to the transactional method of traditional online advertising.
Sponsored content is a natural fit for the education market. Teachers and administrators appreciate thoughtful, high-quality resources that enhance their practice. They’re also more likely than average consumers to view your brand as a long-term partner and not simply a “storefront.” Done well, native advertising creates affection toward your brand.
How to Craft Effective Native Content
A good first step in developing native content is changing your mindset. You’re not creating a traditional ad. You’re designing a resource that teachers and administrators find useful, independent of any commercial interest.
Next, get a feel for the media outlet’s typical editorial content. Sponsored content should complement regular news and feature stories as much as possible – while still including proper disclosures, of course.
Many education media organizations offer support. They may be able to connect you with their creative staff to produce the sponsored content. Conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine if you want this work done in-house, with your agency partner or with the media outlet.
Be meticulous about the substance and style of your native ads. Sponsored content performs best when it closely resembles the media outlet’s editorial coverage, engages readers with relatable, non-promotional ideas, and offers value. Marketing and PR agencies are also important partners as advertisers conceptualize, create and distribute native ads.