The past few years have seen the promise of native advertising converted into reality as more and more brand marketers invest in this methodology that is meant to create more effective consumer engagement.   With recent reports that consumer usage of ad blocking software is on the rise, the emphasis on native advertising as a viable solution is growing.  While the ecosystem has good reason to be optimistic at the upward trajectory of native ad investment, there are steps that brands could be taking to further speed the progress of their native programs.  One of those steps is right under their noses.
A huge opportunity in native advertising that brands should start exploiting is to tap into their own 1st party content in a more meaningful manner—a trove of un leveraged assets that could be potent raw materials for the creation and crafting of engaging and scalable native ads.  What exactly are these un leveraged 1st party assets?
Companies have always produced a multitude of content to run their businesses.  For example, take one of the world’s most powerful marketers, Procter & Gamble.  P&G, for all of its brands like Pampers and Tide, have created large amounts of content intended for marketing collateral including point-of-sale.  However, a lot of that content has never seen the light of day in terms of consumer exposure online.  Home Depot is another example.  If you go to its Web site, there are tens of thousands of how-to articles, which can be repurposed to engage with consumers in an effective manner to drive sales.
Instead of relying primarily on offer-driven advertising to generate sales, brands and their agencies would be well served to prioritize value-driven content  at their fingertips that could really move the needle for their respective brands.
If brand managers put themselves in the heads of consumers, wouldn’t it make sense that an engaging piece of content that takes the time to properly explain the underlying value proposition of the product would ultimately be more effective in converting purchases?  Organic, relevant user experiences that inform and educate will in the long-run drive greater revenue.   I’m reminded of the tagline of the old New York City clothing retailer Sy Syms, “An educated consumer is our best customer.”
There are clearly signs that advertisers are realizing that instead of hitting consumers over the head, they need to take a more nuanced approach.  Several recent CMO surveys report that content marketing is high on the list of CMO 2015 priorities.    But if history is any indication, they’ve yet to fully commit themselves to the opportunity.   Why are brands not meaningfully exploiting these mountains of owned content for marketing purposes?  There is not one global reason.

For many brands, the Internet as a viable sales outlet is still a new concept as they’ve historically relied on bricks-n-mortar.

Many brands could repurpose sales training content for consumer marketing.  Mattresses for example require a lot of purchase consideration; the organization will typically provide reams of information to sales people but not to consumers directly.    Or even when companies go that extra yard it’s not enough.  Car dealerships typically produce tons of great brochures but the depth and nuance of information doesn’t transfer to its TV or typical display advertising because of the obvious format constraints.   The beauty of native advertising lies in the sending of engaged consumers to landing pages where there are broad palettes from which to paint brand stories.
So who can light the fire under brand marketers to utilize first-party content better?  Agencies.  As agencies refashion themselves in a challenging time to evolve the mantle of leadership with their clients, pushing their clients to collate and deploy their native content in a disciplined, organized manner, could really help them enhance themselves in the eyes of their clients.
I can’t tell you how many times that we pitch agencies on native and the response is  “our client has no content.” However in many instances, brands have created the content but haven’t shared it with agencies in a systematic way.    Therefore, this content is not necessarily aligned with what agencies conceptualize.  If agencies can proactively prod their clients to connect the dots, it could lead to a formalized approach to content creation leveraging existing content that could reap significant benefits for all parties.