Three Native Ads That Got People Sharing on Social Media

July 20, 2016

Written by NewsWhip

We look at three examples of native advertising that resonated on social media, from the Telegraph, Forbes and The Atlantic. 
In many ways, the media industry’s hype around native advertising (or ‘sponsored content’) is understandable. 
In the US, up to 24% of adults use an ad-blocker, according to the Reuters Institute. Those numbers are even higher in some European countries. The rise of ad-blockers means that consumers aren’t being exposed to the same volume of display ads, pop-ups, auto-plays and other conventional digital advertising methods. 
There’s good reason for a lot of that, as many ads have served browsers terrible user experiences and serve to do little more than infuriate audiences. But now ad-free browsing experiences are the norm for many people. 
Then there’s the issue of distribution. It’s a similar problem to that one that publishers face: having to compete for the attention of a much more fragmented audience, having lost control of the levers of distribution.
Therefore, native ads serve as a solution to a problem that poses a threat to the revenue models of publishers and advertisers.
At NewsWhip, we see many examples of native content through our analysis of successful content and publishers on social media. Clients like Mastercard use our Spike dashboard as a vital means of staying informed around their content marketing strategies.
For native advertising to work, advertisers and marketers need to adopt the same methods as the most successful publishers on social media: by tapping into the interests of their audience, and creating stories and other content that reaches the reader on their terms. And as many publishers have found, that can be easier said than done.
We’ve picked three examples from different sites that have resonated on social media. 

1. Netflix’s Elaborate Storytelling on The Atlantic

Netflix sponsored content on the Atlantic
At The Atlantic, sponsored content accounts for 60% of annual ad revenue. Their elaborate sponsored stories are created by an in-house team called Re:think.
These sponsored stories are generally accompanied by elaborate design and interactive elements such as Netflix’s promotion of a new series of House of Cards. That story attracted over 7,100 engagements on Facebook. It’s an in-depth piece of writing on presidential couples, circling a theme that will be familiar to any House of Cards viewer. For The Atlantic’s politics-obsessed readers, it makes for fascinating reading.
Although the piece appeared last year, its evergreen message means that it could be re-shared again this year.
Re:think’s Facebook page is a good place to keep track of the Atlantic’s sponsored posts, which continue to drive impressive levels of engagement and interest on Facebook.
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2. Good News From The Telegraph & Seven Seas

Since February, Vitamin company Seven Seas has partnered with the Telegraph to create regular stories around the positive news themes. That’s a proven winner on social media, particularly when looking to connect with a large audience.
The Telegraph’s ‘Good News’ section is a constant stream of uplifting news stories that are aimed to uplift, inspire, and make smiles.
These stories won’t bring down the government, but they’re intended as a distraction for people browsing social media during what has been a torrid year in news. But despite their light-hearted subject matter, they’re still well-told and original. For example, an interview with two childhood friends who bumped into each other after 50 years apart, which drew over 500 engagements on Facebook.
All in all, the social numbers are pretty impressive. One recent story about immigrants attracted over 1,600 Facebook engagements. And while the stories are marked as being sponsored, the branding is light touch.
There’s an opportunity for the audience to get involved in the discussion too. On the Telegraph’s site, readers are encouraged to submit their own Good News stories to win prizes.

3. SAP’s Business-Oriented Posts on Forbes

SAP on Forbes
Forbes takes a slightly different approach with their sponsored content. These stories are looking for a bit more a niche audience to the likes of the Telegraph, so the subject matter that works is slightly different. 
Software company SAP use Forbes’ ‘Brandvoice’ network to publish regular articles on business and innovation on
A good example is an article titled ‘How To Put Customers At The Center With Digital Transformation‘. While the story didn’t perform all that strongly on Facebook (even though some other posts have), we chose this example because of its strong showing on LinkedIn. It was shared over 560 times on the network.
Our data has previously shown the type of stories that get shared on LinkedIn are heavily based around business and career development – people like to feel they’re learning something very tangible related to their job when they browse LinkedIn. Here, SAP have managed to tap into that message, delivering a post that speaks to anyone in business: the importance of your customers.


For many marketers, another appealing distribution option is getting their stories told natively. Facebook have recently changed the rules around native advertising through their Instant Articles, making advertorials more distinct from editorial content. As publishers have found, engagement rates with native forms of content are particularly strong. 
In part two of this guide, we’ll be giving advice on what to look for when creating native stories, with a view to getting distributed on social media, including using native methods like Facebook video. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get our latest posts directly to your inbox.
If you any examples of branded stories that worked on social media, get in touch.

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