What does native content mean?
2015 has been heralded as the year of native content| June 16th, 2015
According to a study by Business Insider Intelligence, spending on native ads will grow to $21 billion in 2018.
So just how did this style of advertising come about and what does it even mean?
Native advertising came about because of people’s banner blindness. Over the last decade, we have all become desensitised to skyscrapers, leaderboards and 300×250 formats. Advertisers had to find a way to connect with the consumer in a more natural and personal way, and so, native advertising was born.
Native advertising is essentially a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural environment and user experience of the platform. Buzzfeed, with its belief that advertiser content can and should be as interesting as the editorial, popularised the native ad format. On social media, it is a promoted tweet on Twitter, a Facebook ad in the news feed, a sponsored update on LinkedIn, a promoted pin on Pinterest and Instagram’s native ad product.
In 2013, the IAB published a playbook on native advertising to provide a framework for thinking about and discussing native advertising options. At the time of its publication, six types of ad units were identified as the most commonly deployed. They are In-Feed Units, Paid Search Units, Recommendation Widgets, Promoted Listings, In-Ad (IAB Standard) with Native Element Units and Custom /”Can’t Be Contained”.
At Mediacom Beyond Advertising, we have seen increasing demand from brands for native content that the IAB classifies as Custom/”Can’t Be Contained”. We worked with Mojo and Q magazines for a Sony Hi-Res Audio campaign, Guardian and Time Out for a Sony Mobile campaign, and with Sunday Times for a Siemens campaign.
Custom native partnerships are not contained to working with publishers. It can also mean working with digital influencers. For a Selfridges campaign, we used Periscope to live stream a Q&A and make-up tutorial with the influential beauty vlogger, Anna of Vivianna Does Makeup. Partnering with a digital influencer means tapping into their already engaged audience, and Periscope was used as a supplementary channel to let the influencer’s followers engage with her (and the brand message) in a live environment.
According to research from IPG media lab, 32% of respondents said the native ad “is an ad I would share with a friend of family member” versus just 19% for display ads. Consumers also looked at editorial content and native ads for a similar amount of time.
The effectiveness of native content is not the death knell for traditional ads. Far from it in fact. When supported by traditional advertising, native advertising saw an uplift of 38 percentage points across key brand metrics, when compared with unsupported native ads.
When brands choose to partner with a publisher, platform or digital influencer, the key is to understand the publisher/platform/digital influencer’s natural environment. The brand needs to fit into this context. Every publisher will also have its own set of guidelines for native content. There is no one size fits all solution.
The possibilities of native content partnerships are limitless. As consumer behaviour evolves, so will these native content providers. They have to if they want to continue to attract the sizeable audience that currently visits their site. Measurements will also improve and the storytelling will evolve.
The one thing that won’t change, and must never change, is transparency (so consumers know that the content is paid for) and the quality of the content.