Native Advertising: How to Design a Low Budget, Powerful B2B Program

native advertising

Native advertising has gone beyond buzz.

Nearly three-quarters of publishers now offer native advertising media on their platforms. Still, only about one-third of B2B marketing pros employ the tactic.

This one’s for those still sitting on the sidelines. Here’s how small companies and startups can build a killer native advertising campaign without breaking the B2B marketing budget.

What is native advertising?

For the sake of definitions, we consider native advertising to be any paid media that matches the “form and function” of the platform on which it appears. And the first step for successful native advertising is to decide which platform to use.

Pick your platform

Success depends on accurate targeting — going to where your audience is.

It may be tempting to go straight for popular — and pricey — online publications or industry sites when starting your campaign. But social platforms are more affordable and have a shorter learning curve for marketers. They also offer familiar interfaces and a range of tools for optimizing your ad campaign.

LinkedIn remains the popular option for B2B native advertising campaigns, and since it generates 80 percent of social network B2B leads, it’s a logical jumping-off point.

But don’t discount consumer-oriented platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Your B2B buyers likely are on those, too. Tap into these networks with entertaining content around your brand’s expertise. It’ll create a positive brand association that can influence buyers when it’s purchasing time.

Speak the language

Native advertising offers a great opportunity to get highly relevant content in front of your audience. The operative word here is “relevant.” You must understand the type and tone of content users consume on your chosen platforms.

From a single paragraph, anyone can tell the difference between an article published on BuzzFeed and one from Business Insider. Similarly, you must customize your content to reflect — and respect — the community dynamics of each platform on which you advertise. Clashing with reader expectations will only disrupt their experience and guarantee your native advertising campaign won’t work.

Walk the line

The biggest challenge B2B marketers face is creating content their customers want to consume.

Content must walk a fine line between being relevant to your brand and blatantly promoting it. Understand what information your targeted audience wants from you, and present it in a way that aligns with your brand and the platform on which it’s delivered. Many of the Forbes BrandVoice contributors do this well, delivering the kind of well-researched topical content that readers of the business publication expect.

Tap in-house experts

Many B2B publications offer in-house native ad production services. You can pay them to create the native ad. But you also can save precious budget dollars by tapping your internal marketing resources.

No publication understands your company’s mission as well as your own employees. Leverage their expertise, and you’ll ensure the content has the strongest brand voice it can.

Be transparent

People are smart enough to sniff out ads amidst editorial. So be upfront that the content is sponsored by your brand, whether by including your logo or otherwise noting the brand. This way, readers won’t feel misled.

Whatever method you choose, try to ensure the disclaimer stays with the content whenever it’s shared. It will give your brand added free exposure.

Amplify your ads

Getting your content published on influential websites and social networks is only half the battle. Once it’s live, you need to expand the audience.

You can enlist the help of a content discovery tool like Outbrain or employ a paid search strategy. But a less expensive way to increase your content’s exposure is to get your targeted audience to share it on its own.

Roughly one-third of web users will share native ad content with family and friends. Netflix found this out when it netted nearly 140,000 shares of its “Orange is the New Black” native advertisement.

The key is to nail down the preceding steps so your targeted audience can’t help but respond and pass your content on.

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