Native advertising is increasingly taking hold. At the same time, “in-your-face” advertising is becoming less and less popular. Due to the deep integration in the editorial content of renowned media offerings, native advertising is considered to be one of the great opportunities when it comes to marketing and commercializing content.
With its focus on content, native advertising aims to achieve a high level of reader involvement. While the teaser texts of native ads often gain widespread attention free of charge, full articles provide detailed information of interested readers after clicking on these teasers. The company placing the ad just pays for the clicks generated by this deeper involvement of truly interested target groups. To avoid expensive wastage, the content should be closely aligned with the interests of the addressed target group. Standard billing methods combined with appropriately designed content ensures that advertisers only pay for those contacts that truly take interest in the content. In contrast to traditional banner advertising, native advertising is not recognized by ad blockers and is visible even on mobile displays.
Although advertising – including native ads – still have to be indicated as such, many readers do not necessarily consider notes such as “sponsored by” to indicate advertising.
Native ads have many faces
There are varied descriptions for native adverts. A common definition is yet to be found. This may be due to the fact that, in addition to conventional advertorials, new forms of native advertising are constantly being offered. The choices range from provision of finished text and images by the advertisers to full design by specialist editorial teams provided by the publishing companies. From placement in specific website sections to targeting services that are only presented to selected target groups. Facebook may not be a publisher with its own editorial department, but its advertising options clearly show the variety of ways to achieve targeted placement of content within and surrounding the newsfeed as well as the various billing methods.
The rise in mobile traffic due to the increased use of smartphones along with the slow development of conventional mobile ads has served to significantly increase interest in native advertising formats. Mobile traffic increased last year by a full 81%. Analysts estimate that more than 50 percent of the worldwide traffic will be generated by mobile devices by 2018. This means that publishers and other platform operators will increasingly need to achieve their advertising revenue via mobile devices and new mobile ad formats. The same applies to marketeers, who have to address their audiences via the mobile web. Native advertising is just one option, albeit an exceptionally interesting one, particularly in combination with other digital advertising.
This trend is forcing publishers to rethink, because the principle of advertising banners, which consists of squeezing ads in between the user and the actual content, is quickly becoming obsolete. Banners are usually not compatible with the smaller displays of mobile devices or disrupt the user experience especially when it comes to full-screen advertising formats. Each of us has probably already been annoyed by having to search for a barely noticeable button to get past such a banner. Ad blockers represent another major obstacle for conventional banner advertising. According to recent research, approximately 150 million users already use software from vendors like “Adblock” or “Adblock Plus”.
Native or conventional, that is the question!
To integrate native formats ideally in the existing media mix, advertisers, publishers, media companies and creative agencies all have to work together. And this can sometimes be a considerable challenge. Huffington Post CEO, Jimmy Maymann, sees a mixture of conventional banners and native ads as the most effective and economical combination. His reasoning is simple: conventional advertising has been working for decades, but taking a single-track approach can be risky.
Some publishers in the U.S., however, are now only using native formats. The most well-known example of this is Buzzfeed. The site has distinguished itself by working internally with several well-known journalists, who work in an investigative way and even report from crisis areas. This extensive coverage is financed by partnerships with companies, which are presented in selected stories in return. Other large newsrooms are shifting production of native advertising in-house, but of course strictly separating it from the editorial department. The idea behind his is understandable. The tonality of one’s own media brand can only be rendered by the company’s own team and therefore they have to produce all content.
The New York Times, Guardian and Forbes are just a few of the companies who are already taking this path. In Germany, the newspaper company Bild is using advertising produced in-house. The new “Unit Bild Brand Studio” is located right in bild.de and consists of Bild editors. These are all exciting developments to keep an eye on.