Remember the good old days of the internet, in the mid-to-late 1990s? The “Wild West” days when the internet was a vast frontier, ripe for exploring, colonizing and settling?

All nostalgia aside, you may also remember two less-than-favorites from that era; the pop-up and banner ad craze. Like the Wild West, the internet was eventually changed.

The latest trend in this evolution is a relatively new concept: native advertising. A recent article gives a terrific run-down of what native advertising is and what native advertising isn’t, along with this doozy of a technical definition:

“Native advertising refers to a specific mode of monetization that aims to augment user experience by providing value through relevant content delivered in-stream.”

Give your mind a minute to rest after trying to digest that (I know my head throbbed for a while after reading it). Now, try the following, simpler definition and consider how it might apply to your credit union’s or bank’s online advertising, especially on your website.

Native advertising is a way to place your relevant and valuable message more seamlessly in places members are more likely to read it.

How can you accomplish this on your website? Here are three ideas.

  1. Your blog. Hopefully you have one that is updated regularly with content designed to not only educate and inform consumers, but to help guide them towards using more of your products and services. Nowhere near as pervasive as an ad, your blog can become an important tool in cross-selling and PFI (primary financial institution) endeavors.
  2. Target messages within home banking. Messages to members from within home banking allow you to maximize the data you’ve collected on them and direct them towards products and services they could use. If they log on to check their account balance and the system notes they don’t have a car loan with your credit union, the message on the screen could highlight your current low-rate auto loan promo. If they are looking to see if a particular check has cleared and the system sees they don’t have a credit union credit card, the message could highlight that product.
  3. Social media. While a bit outside the realm of true native advertising, what better way to reach your members than an active presence in places they readily visit daily? A credit union or bank Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest account creates ways to reach consumers with seamless messages in mediums they actively pursue, rather than you trying to catch them.

While still in its relevant infancy as a marketing tactic, native advertising could prove to be the new sheriff on the internet landscape. Don’t let the buzz on it from big corporations and ad executives shy you away from its potential to work for your credit union or bank.