native advertising

The Power of Storytelling in Native Advertising: Success Stories that Inspire Us

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Key Takeaways:

  • Native Advertising & Storytelling:
    • Native advertising seamlessly integrates with content.
    • Storytelling is pivotal for creating engaging brand narratives.
  • Psychology of Storytelling:
    • Stories cut through promotional noise, fostering deeper connections.
    • Memorable stories humanize brands, making them relatable.
  • Examples of Success:
    • Volkswagen, Nissan, Budweiser, and Nike showcase effective storytelling in native advertising.
  • Best Practices:
    • Tailor stories to audience preferences.
    • Choose platforms wisely, integrate brand messaging, and include a clear call-to-action.
    • Continuously measure and optimize campaign performance.

As a savvy marketer, we are sure you must have come across the term native advertising multiple times. In fact, you might also recall industry experts defining native advertising as one of the most immersive advertising experiences.

But have you ever wondered what it is? Are you interested to know why native advertising campaigns are a preferred choice among brands, publishers and agencies? 

This post will help find some answers for you.

Here, we will take an in-depth dive into comprehending the power of native advertising and how native advertising can be leveraged through storytelling. We also take a look at some best practices for the success of native advertising and a few instances of great native advertising examples from top brands.

But first, let’s clear our basics.

Native advertisements – the definition 

Native advertising is a process of using paid ads that match perfectly with functions, aesthetics and forms of platforms where they appear. These native ads blend in seamlessly to match the content of the given media, thereby preventing any disruption to the viewer’s experience. 

Native advertisement allows advertisers to post sponsored content and grab the viewer’s attention without being an obvious ad. 

The importance of storytelling in native advertising 

The pandemic has changed the course of customer experience significantly. Now, more than ever, audiences are staying glued to their mobile devices to seek answers and distractions. Their exposure to many native ads often plays a key role in the final decision-making process, thereby emphasizing the need for a rich customer experience.

As a matter of fact, more than 84% of people mention that experience is just as important as the products offered by the brand. And this talks volumes about the potency of engaging ads as a part of paid advertisement campaigns.

Modern tech-savvy customers prioritize compelling brand stories conveyed through digital ads. And native ads help in doing just that. They are designed to match the content form they are placed next to. With careful placement of highly-targeted native ads in and around the editorial content, you can drive powerful results.

1- The Power of Storytelling in Native Advertising

Storytelling is key to conveying the brand message in a compelling way. It can allow you to show your brand in the right light, thereby engaging with the audience on a personal level.

Here is how you can incorporate storytelling in your native advertisement –

1.1- How storytelling engages audiences

a type writer with words typed "stories matter.

Storytelling is important, not just to convey a brand message but to also sustain customer attention. Human brains have an innate desire for narratives, making stories a powerful medium to engage with the audience and showcase them an advantage. 

Plus, stories make people stay interested, given they feature mysteries that the audience wants to unveil to bridge the knowledge gap. Besides, stories tend to have emotional elements to them, making people even more interested in them. 

The customer interest that you grab and sustain through native advertising gives you a chance to keep forward with your arguments. For instance, you can show the audience their journey from point A to B, the advantages they obtain by reaching the endpoint and the steps they can take to reach the same using native ads.

1.2- The psychology behind storytelling in advertising

Even though it is quite straightforward to interact with the target audience in today’s digitally advanced marketplace, the competition is fierce. And this is one of the reasons why most marketing campaigns fail miserably. 

You can consider storytelling a secret sauce that assists you in cutting through the noises of promotional messages. 

Storytelling will allow you, as a brand owner, to make in-depth connections with the target audience through paid ads. You can use storytelling to instil empathy and display your brand more authentically, thereby allowing the readers to connect with your story even better.

Storytelling could be used to keep the brand message much more clearly in front of the target audience. Even cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner mentioned that messages communicated through storytelling are more memorable than those that aren’t. 

Storytelling can allow you to explain hard-to-understand concepts more easily. It can also assist you to cross borders and develop a sense of community spirit among your readers, especially if you have a diverse set of target audiences. 

In short, storytelling is an excellent way of grabbing the target audience’s attention much more effectively compared to presentations that are filled with industry jargon. Native advertising is your brand’s step towards humanizing your brand. 

1.3- Benefits of using storytelling in native advertising

Besides branding and awareness, emotional storytelling is an effective performance driver in the market. It helps in touching human emotions and making connections that last. 

For instance, customers don’t always react well when they are told to buy something. But, adding structural elements in the narrative of the native ads, like the presence of a main character in the story along with his or her actions in the story, can allow the viewers to relate to the native ad story. This, in turn, could result in much more positive feelings.

These connections you make through social media ads and native ads could also lead to vicarious learning through the main character’s feelings, beliefs and thoughts, thereby significantly lowering the resistance of the viewer to the native ads. 

2- Examples of Native Advertising by Top Brands that Leverage Storytelling  

Scan the internet and you will find numerous native advertising examples. However, listed below are our top picks of best native advertising examples –

2.1- Volkswagen – Moments

White steering wheel with Volkswagen logo

Volkswagen’s “Moments,” was a masterclass commercial promoting their newly launched vehicle. This native ad portrays the importance of the safety feature in the vehicle in protecting a young child’s future. 

In the ad, there is a little girl having a conversation with her mother about the adventures she wishes to have in her life while she is overcoming her fear of the first day at school. The moments the little girl describes flash by, and you see another story playing simultaneously – a distracted woman driving the vehicle. Both these stories meet in a very tense situation. 

What we love about this native advertising is that Volkswagen uses a story about a kid’s future to display how Volvo’s automatic stop feature can enhance an individual’s life by safeguarding them from vehicle accidents. 

2.2- Nissan – Shoulders of Giants 

Photo of Trucks near lake

Out of the many native advertising examples, Nissan’s “shoulders of giants” ad stands out. It depicts a series of role models, including a man, an older brother, a coach, a dad, a firefighter, an astronaut and children who praise them. This, yet another native advertising example, showcases how children tend to be influenced by the important people they have in their life. 

The end of this native advertising is quite unexpected. This is where you realize that the child is no one else than Nissan’s new American Titan truck. And its role models are Ford, Chevy and other automobile companies. 

What we loved about this native advertising is that instead of poking fun at the other automobile companies or truck models, Nissan states that they couldn’t have become the best without their role models in the industry. 

2.3- Budweiser – Someone waits for you at home 

a person holding a bottle of budweisre

This native ad made by Budweiser is on the topic “don’t drink and drive,” but from a dog’s perspective. We encourage you to check it out if you are looking for great native advertising examples.

The ad builds up, showcasing the relationship between the dog and his owner through various scenes. Then in one of the scenes, the dog owner leaves home with his friends and beer cases, making a promise to the dog to return home.

The next scene cuts to the dog waiting the entire night for the owner to return to no avail and thinking of the worst. However, the owner makes it back home, and we find out that he made the responsible choice of staying the night instead of driving under the influence. 

What made us pick this native advertising as one of the best native advertising examples is the unique point of view and how everyone we know or love is impacted due to the choices we make. 

2.4- Nike – Nothing beats a Londoner 

A close-up shot of nike shoes

Since Nike predominantly rules the market across the U.S., it wanted to make its brand relevant and known in the U.K., too. Hence, Nike’s marketing team came up with a brilliant ad concept “nothing beats a Londoner.” 

They actually spoke with the real youths of London and even featured them in their ad along with some celebrity cameos. This ad definitely takes the viewers through dramatic scenes and intense journeys of the London boroughs. 

What we loved about this native advertising example is that Nike featured its real-life customers, thereby conveying authenticity and real experience. You can also notice Nike gear throughout the ad, which makes us believe in their impressive skills of breathing the spirit of Nike as a brand. 

3- Best Practices for Storytelling in Native Advertising

By now, you might know that storytelling in native advertising has a huge impact on maximizing a brand’s profit. However, to make the most out of your efforts in native ad, you must –

3.1- Understanding the audience

Before you proceed to draft a story, identify your readers or viewers. This will assist you in pitching the story seamlessly. And once you identify who will be watching, listening to or reading your story, get to know the audience better by researching their personas.

For instance, what are the target audience’s pain points? What do they like better? Etc. All this will come in handy in drafting the body of your story. 

Once you have all the vital details at your disposal, you will know which direction you need to head next. 

Remember, effective stories are ones that focus on the problems that your brand is capable of solving. With such an approach, you will be in a better position to make the viewers resonate with your story and its characters.

Adding a sense of suspense to the story of your native advertising can help you hold the reader or viewer’s attention till the end. 

3.2- Choosing the right platform

The immense growth of native advertising has compelled advertisers to work with industry experts and create solid native ad strategies.

Well, you must know that there are plenty of native advertising platforms available. And choosing the right platform for native advertising isn’t as straightforward as it may look.

Consider the following tips to find the best native advertising platform –

  • Your publishing partner’s audience is critical for the success of the campaign. Hence, ensure that the publishing partner of your choice has excellent reach and is contextually appropriate.
  • Work with firms that have direct relationships with the publishers. Why? Because that way, you will know exactly where your native ads may appear. You will also gain better visibility and be able to verify their activity.
  • If you lack creative experience, find platforms that will assist you with creativity, recommend images, headlines and more. Such as social media ads or audio ads.
  • Never overlook the power of tracking capabilities to determine your success rate.
  • Determine if your chosen native ads platform provides smart bidding or not. Although bidding isn’t available for most platforms, it can help in ensuring you generate optimal bids at the appropriate time.

3.3- Integrating brand messaging

Identifying the central brand messaging is key because you will require integrating it with the native ads. 

Find the answer to “What is the goal of your story?” You should be able, to sum up the answer in less or equal to 10 words. This central message could be anything from introducing the product range to selling the service or something else. 


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Also, don’t forget to introduce a CTA in your native ad for on-time conversion. Make sure that the CTA aligns with the goal of your story. For instance, join the webinar, sign up for the course, buy a product or subscribe to our email list. 

3.4- Measuring success

a person pointing at an upward line graph

Your efforts in creating a native advertising strategy will go in vain if you don’t spend time to measure it. Continuous monitoring of the campaign is key to determining the performance, strengths and weaknesses of the campaign. 

Such insights will come in handy in making improvements, tackling challenges and optimizing the campaign as per the industry standard. For instance, you will determine whether or not the headline used is click-worthy or if the images need to be swapped with different ones to make them appealing to the viewers and so on. 

Our parting thoughts

It is evident from the blog that native advertising is one of the most potent forces in digital marketing today. Both publishers and advertisers love it, given how spectacularly it performs when planned and implemented strategically.

However, the entire success of your native ad depends upon your storytelling prowess. Hence, prioritize this aspect in every way possible. Make sure to determine your target audience and choose the right platform to raise awareness via advertising.

Next, integrate brand messaging, and closely monitor your digital advertising campaigns. We have seen native advertising examples to gauge the immense traction they generate for top brands.

Also, remember that producing effective storytelling in advertising takes a good amount of practice. Hence, take your time. And don’t forget to keep the stories true to your brand identity while remaining authentic.

You can also work with industry experts or agencies that are capable of navigating you through the realms of storytelling for native advertising. Consider scanning through the archives of Sortlist to locate experts with relevant industry expertise without compromising your budget or needs for native advertising.


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