Native advertising is often used by publishers as a way out of being held to the direct-response metrics that have long been associated with banner ads.
Native was supposed to be a premium ad format that would bolster falling digital CPMs, and it has mainly been viewed as an image-building format. But it was only a matter of time before advertisers would start to demand more than just a lift in awareness or improved reputation and ask for ads that directly drive sales or leads.
Case in point: this ad for The New York Times that’s running on Mashable. The ad has a direct come-on to new digital customers, with a “subscribe” button that’s prominently placed to the right of its branded article. It’s part of a month-long campaign the Times is running on Mashable to drive audience growth.
The practice is more established among B2B marketers, for whom the format is well suited for white-paper downloads and webinar signups. Lexis Nexis, for example, used this ad on Law.com to drum up business for its MedMal navigator product. But consumer publishers are increasingly hearing requests for native ads to include calls to action.