It's basically advertising, that is integrated closer to the content and copies the look and feel of the content. Or as Kissmetrics puts it:
they are a form of advertising that is so tightly interwoven within the site it’s being promoted on that customers can’t tell that it’s advertising.
It's the digital version of this:
They need to focus on utility marketing. Deliver such great value from the outset that the consumer cannot ignore you. Great examples of these are:
Example 1: Nivea - Sun Alarm App
Nivea created an app that wakes people at certain times based on the weather. Watch the video to get the full picture. Can you imagine this being useful?
Example 2: Samsung - Charging stations
It doesn't have to be a digital product. Look at this by Samsung. A charging station at the airport. Talk about useful.
Example 3: HSBC - Special Privileges
(disclosure, we made this)
We worked together closely with HSBC to create the Smart Privileges platform on which merchant partners could highlight their credit card deals. And for card holders, it's fast becoming the single tool to discover relevant new products and experiences tied to your desired location, your wants, and your habits.
What should you ask yourself?
If you're a marketer. Ask yourself: "Am I yelling at my consumers?" or if you're working with native advertising: "Am I yelling the wrong content through the better integrated but still wrong, bullhorn?"
And then take the next step. Think about how you can add value to the consumers life. Let's start putting customers central again.