Twitter has recently changed its Promoted Tweet ad units to look more like native tweets. The indication of sponsorship has been downplayed and the Promoted Tweets now look more like a natural part of the stream.
This change took place at the end of April, and Twitter claimed that it was making the change deliberately in an effort to make Promoted Tweets blend more seamlessly with the rest of the tweets.
Previously, Promoted Tweets were accompanied by a yellow icon and a blue hyperlink, indicating the sponsor. The hyperlink has been colored gray and the yellow icon has been removed entirely. Political tweets will still have a purple badge.
Other social networks, such as Pinterest and Facebook, also use this low-key approach to promoted content.
The Growth of Native Advertising
Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and others are employing “social native advertising.” This type of advertising is designed to make promoted content look like a part of the rest of the site.
Native advertising began exploding in recent years as businesses realized its benefits. It first began to make some ripples when native ads began appearing as editorial content on news websites.
Some people complained that the content was almost camouflaged. This type of advertising, the argument went, could undermine users’ trust in the advertiser and the media outlet.
But that didn’t stop major news blogs from engaging in native advertising. Plenty of others in the advertising and marketing world continued to promote native advertising, saying that it was actually better than other types of ads.
- Almost 1 out of 3 consumers claimed they’d share a native ad with a friend or family member.
- 71% of publishers received no major complaint from readers who were surveyed about native ads.
- One study found that purchase intent was 53% higher with native ads.
- One campaign run by GE earned a click-through rate that was higher than 8%.
These types of successes may have rubbed off on the social media networks, which have all adopted the social native model for their sponsored content.
Business Insider has examined native advertising and social native in detail:
- By 2017, they expect social native ad spend to take up 40% or more of the $10 billion social media ad spend.
- Facebook ads placed in the News Feed earned 49 times as many click-throughs as ads placed in the right sidebar…and they cost 54% less.
- LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, and Snapchat are only a few of the other social networks that have begun offering social native advertising.
Not everyone is pleased with the concept of native advertising. John Oliver’s famous rant against native advertising went viral. And he went so far as to call native advertising a “trust parasite.”
But Oliver was speaking mostly about native advertising in major media outlets – not social networks.
So far, no one has voiced such outrage over social native advertising. And with so many statistics that prove this ad format’s effectiveness, it’s no wonder Twitter has decided to make its ads more native.
Twitter certainly made the move in an effort to increase click-through rates and make its Promoted Tweets more desirable to advertisers…and to improve the look of the interface.
Why Social Ads Have Gone Native
Clearly, native advertising has generated positive ROI and positive results in news blogs and other media outlets. And native advertising has been around for a long, long time. So it’s no surprise that the advertising professionals who run social networks would explore this option.
There are several underlying reasons that native ads are more favored by marketers:
Native ads are unobtrusive. People are advertised to constantly. Studies have shown that people ignore anything that looks like an ad. And social native advertising gives marketers and opportunity to serve ads that don’t necessarily look like ads.
Promoted social content is ideal because it looks exactly like the content that the user came there to see. This is certainly why Twitter made its sponsored content look even more native and less like an advertisement.
They are more effective. The more effective an ad format, the more attractive it is for advertisers, so ad networks like Twitter and Facebook will do everything in their power to optimize these ad formats. Since more people click on native ads, they generate more income for advertisers. Part of that income, of course, will then be reinvested in these ad formats.
They are more cost-effective. Social native ads cost less for advertisers. And since these types of ads are more appealing, more cost-effective, and more effective, businesses are more likely to stay on board as customers of the social networks.
They generate more revenue. Higher click-through rates mean more revenue for advertisers, who will then spend more on ads, and so on and so forth.
Despite some backlash against the native advertising industry, ad networks and social networks show no signs of slowing. The positive results for native advertising and social native will only mean continued investment well into the future.