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Why native advertising is no passing fad - and three tips on getting it right

The term 'Native Advertising' burst into the UK media industry's vernacular last year and rapidly became the catch-all phrase for any type of advertising that mimics or is designed to resemble editorial content.

Andrew Sanders is brand partnerships director at IPC Advertising

Andrew Sanders is brand partnerships director at IPC Advertising

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Native advertising is not a licence to trick consumers or supply them with low quality, out-of-kilter advertising, dressed up as editorial

Regardless of what your particular definition is, for us native advertising is about augmenting a consumer’s experience with bespoke advertiser-funded editorial with advertising messages seamlessly woven in. What it isn’t is a licence to trick consumers or supply them with low quality, out-of-kilter advertising, dressed up as editorial.

Native advertising isn’t something new for us, it’s something that IPC has been doing for decades in a variety of forms. To be successful it needs to fulfil three important criteria:

1. For native advertising to be truly ‘native’, the tone of voice must be absolutely right. It must be in keeping with the publisher’s brand or, even better, it must be created by the brand. Consumers are incredibly loyal to our brands and will quickly switch off if they suspect that the content isn’t up to the quality they expect.

2. There needs to be trust. Consumers trust magazine brands – like ours - to deliver a premium experience and believe that the advertising that appears on our brands’ websites and print editions has been especially selected by the editor. That hard-won trust is not something that should be jeopardised.

3. The advertising content must be intelligently targeted; it must be aimed at the right demographic and positioned in the right places so as to appeal to its intended audience.

Our campaign for Mazda across embraced these principles. This used our ‘Amplify’ product which combines IPC’s premium editorial content with advertising creative in a unique format and then amplifies this to a target audience of up to 40m consumers.

We used a mixture of existing and bespoke created content from Goodtoknow focused around family days out, which ensured that the campaign was consistent with the platform’s content.

When the Amplify unit was served to consumers it linked back to our content in a Mazda-branded area embedded in the heart of Goodtoknow, as well as providing links to the Mazda brand website. This reassured the consumer that Mazda was a trusted partner of Goodtoknow.

Working with Radium One as our data management partner, we were then able to target consumers we knew would be interested in content about family days out, primarily based on their social sharing of our proprietary Goodtoknow content.

The discussion of whether native is the future of a fad is beside the point, it's about delivering the fundamentals

These bespoke data sets, built from first party data, allow us to target people who we know have engaged with these specific types of content both on our websites and across the web via premium partners eBay and MSN, as well as selected exchanges.

So for us, the discussion of whether native is the future or a fad is beside the point, for us at IPC it’s not about formats and architecture, it’s about delivering the fundamentals.

For any type of advertising to work it must have the right tone of voice, be placed in an environment consumers trust and also be tightly targeted.

As the legendary US adman Howard Luck Gossage once said: "The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it's an ad."

Andrew Sanders is brand partnerships director at IPC Advertising

This article was first published on

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