Nobody likes being played the fool. These days, consumers have the upper hand when it comes to brand advertising and marketing efforts. They see right through any and all attempts at “connecting” with them. They know that when you publish an ad of a cat with a mustache sitting next to your product, you’re really just trying to sucker them in to buying it. Instead of appearing cute and funny, they just see you as being gimmicky.

Hence the rise of content marketing, which was created out of the idea that consumers will be more attracted to a company that provides valuable information in a way that’s completely selfless. Basically, the hope and expectation is that if you scratch their back, they’ll eventually scratch yours. But if not, then so be it— it’s still a win-win situation. They’ll get the help they need and you’ll get more website views and raise your profile on the web.

A close cousin of content marketing is native advertising – the paid placement of contextually relevant content on a platform, meaning that more eyeballs are likely to see the content. It’s an ad, but it’s an ad that provides value to the audience. And the strategy is picking up steam.

According to The State of Native Advertising, 78 percent of brands believe native advertising adds value to consumers. The report, which surveyed publishers, brands, and agencies, revealed that the most popular forms of native advertising were blog posts (65 percent), articles (63 percent), Facebook (56 percent), videos (52 percent), Tweets (46 percent), and infographics (35 percent).

And when brands were asked what motivated them to use native advertising, the results were particularly interesting. The report revealed they hope to:

  • Provide a more relevant message
  • Increase consumer engagement
  • Generate awareness or buzz
  • Create word of mouth
  • Combat banner blindness

Native advertising is a great way to engage your audience and create a tight relationship than if you were to publish a regular ad. By meeting consumers where they are and offering them content they can use or somehow benefit from, they’ll come to appreciate your brand all the more.

Here’s how you can get started:

Find out where your audience is.

This one seems pretty obvious, but it’s key that you promote content on websites and platforms your target audience loves. If a high percentage of them read articles on Buzzfeed or engage on Facebook, maybe you should consider becoming a Buzzfeed Partner or promoting sponsored stories.

Don’t forget your brand.

While you may need to think outside the box to connect your company with a lifestyle concept (i.e. Whole Foods and healthy living), it’s important that you don’t stray too far from what your product is and what your brand represents.

But don’t make it about your brand.

At the same time, you also don’t want to make it all about you; you need to create something consumers can relate to. Finding that delicate balance is difficult, but it’s essential to success. The publisher will inform consumers the post is sponsored by adding your logo or a company byline – and that’s enough.

Strive for quality.

Would you want to read something that was poorly written or watch a video clip that had a quality similar to that of a local car dealership commercial? Doubtful. Give consumers something that’s worth watching and bragging about to others.