Tag Archives: Native

Use Native Advertising to Collapse the Purchase Funnel

The marketing funnel—a user’s journey from first becoming aware of your brand to actually making a purchase—is usually thought of in separate stages, each of them focused on different things. Early stages have to do with brand awareness and familiarity, of making your business known to users who may never have heard of you before, while later stages deal with with conversion, turning a user into a (hopefully repeat) customer.

Traditional advertising campaigns have tended to reflect this separation, with advertising units addressing only one or two parts of the marketing funnel, which is broken into “brand” campaigns to build awareness or “direct response” and “performance” campaigns focused on pure conversion.

This has changed with the advent of native advertising. The precise definition of native is somewhat nebulous, but in general it refers to advertising content served in the context of the user’s experience, such as branded content. For example, a news site might share an article “from our sponsors” that, aside from this qualification, looks just like any other article on the site, perhaps even with subject matter that relates to the non-sponsored articles.

A well executed and planned branded content campaign can deliver multiple times the ROI of a standard display campaign.
A well executed and planned branded content campaign can deliver multiple times the ROI of a standard display campaign.

An ROI Growth Engine

The benefit of such branded content is that it helps to collapse the marketing funnel into a near singularity, such that separate campaigns aren’t needed, just one that serves the entire user journey. Branded content can be as media-rich as any of the other content it sits beside—native ads can utilise text, video, interactivity, and other tricks of online advertising to serve every stage of the funnel all in one “ad” placement.

For example, brand awareness can be as simple as “sponsored by” text featuring your brand name; this could then be followed up by a video that “tells a story”, featuring product demonstrations and consumer opinions; and finally, it could use copy to inform the potential customer about a particular product or service and drive them to conversion through a call to action (purchase, register, or download). This roughly follows the order of the traditional marketing funnel, but it’s more important that the ad mixes brand awareness with content designed to influence direct purchasing decisions.

More cost-effective than running multiple campaigns, as well as making the journey simpler for the user, effective native advertising drives ROI and can often yield results that are next to impossible to achieve with standard ads.

Presentation – IAB UK Content Conference

I presented for Unanimis at the IAB UK Content Conference on July 24th. The event brought together, in roughly equal parts, advertising brands, agencies, publishers, and tech companies.

I chose to look at ways in which the online ad industry can scale up native to be able to deliver on it. Core to the presentation was that publishers and advertisers need to look at why Facebook and Twitter have been so successful as scaling up native so quickly and apply that to their people, process, and technology.

First, I set up an working definition of Native. This was:

  • Is it a piece of paid content, i.e. was it paid for by an advertiser?
  • Was it produced, at least in part or in coöperation with, the advertiser
  • Does it run on the publisher’s domain and does engaging or clicking through the content keep the user on the publisher’s site

Using this definition, I examined how publishers can use stories, posts, videos, and other content in a native, responsive, in stream manner. I asked attendees to question their systems and processes, to leverage existing assets, and to ensure they weren’t duplicating work in setting up a native solution.

The key takeaways were:

  • As yourself, what’s your definition of Native?
  • Do you have an internal Native Champion who shows a natural passion for the subject?
  • Is your native solution keeping your viewers on your site or taking them away? What’s the cost of driving a user off your site?
  • What skills sets are missing in your commercial, operations, and tech teams to deliver a successful Native product offering
  • How many systems or platforms do you need to use to successfully deliver a Native campaign? What’s the cost of these systems?
  • How, other than direct sales, are you sourcing demand?
  • Are you able to offer the full capabilities of a 2014 ad system in Native?
    • Programmatic
    • Scalable
    • Rich targeting & reporting
  • Tech / People / Process Scorecard for Native? How do you rank?

I will be writing up a longer post on the topic but thought I’d share this for now.

Could Google Panda 4.0 kill the Press Release? | (from Econsultancy)

Does Google Panda 4.0 mean the days of PR newswires are numbered? | Econsultancy
Source: huebucket @tumblr

It certainly wouldn’t be a well attended funeral, except for those that wanted to actually see it dead. Ok. Maybe that’s a bit harsh, but these days press releases seem like an utterly redundant exercise. There are so many better ways to get your messaging out there.

We’ve all seen sites like these – PR aggregators disguised as news sites. I suspect though that the PR of old will find new life in the Native Advertising world as what were once press releases are now pushed out via Native exchanges and marketplaces.

I don’t even remember the last time I read a press release, so I don’t think that this will be too disruptive to my life.

According to the article

PRWeb, PR Newswire, Business Wire and PRLog lost 60% to 85% of their search visibility over night.

via Does Google Panda 4.0 mean the days of PR newswires are numbered? | Econsultancy.

Unmet demand for scalable branded content abundant

It’s been a crazy week so far and it’s only Tuesday at 9:30 AM. Part of this craziness is that there is so much interest in the DistroScale solution. Publishers, especially top-tier, multi-title publishers, are chomping at the bit for a scalable solution for branded content that plugs directly into demand streams on the buy side. I had suspected that there might be some pent-up demand for services like these, services that don’t require a big commitment — or any commitment at all — from publishers, yet offers them monthly paychecks of purely incremental revenue. I’ve seen this before in the early days of RTB when Admeld was building a stable of top-tier premium publishers, offering them a check every month, and solving both their remnant inventory and multi-network management problems at the same time. In the end, that model and their strategy worked out pretty well for them, I’d say. It’s a great business to be in, both providing a solution to a problem and being able to pay people for the privilege.

One thing that has become abundantly clear as I’ve been holding these meetings is that the scope of confusion and misunderstanding of ‘native’ is rife in the online industry, even amongst those who have been in it for ages. I include myself in this pool and each day I get a clearer picture of what we, as an industry, actually mean by the term. However, it’s such a wide catchall right now, it’s not surprising people are so confused. I found this beautifully produced matrix/chart from TripleLift and I’m using it as a cheat sheet for myself and as an asset for clients. I suspect it’ll require nearly weekly updates:

A visual categorization of the major players involved from TripleLift.
A visual categorization of the major players involved from TripleLift.

It’s crystal clear that the industry wants scalable, programmatic solutions for branded content (i.e. native) and there will probably be a few winners in the space. I don’t think it’s a one-size-fits-all problem and I don’t necessarily think it’s going to lend itself to one dominant player. Again, I look at the RTB world, which spawned at least three extremely successful companies on the publisher side: Admeld, PubMatic, and Rubicon. On the demand side it spawned, and continues to spawn, many many more. I’m looking forward to being on the ground and in the trenches for this latest (r)evolution in ad tech.

The state of native advertising in 5 data sets | Digiday

More top quality content from Digiday looking at the state of Native. As I continue to dig into this marketplace through my work with DistroScale, it’s becoming clear to me that there is a crossroads in the distance. It’s a road we’ve been down before — first with display, then with rich media: Hype & Buzzwords; Tech Provider Cage Fight; Appeal to the Buyers; High CPMs; Wide Scale Adoption; Acquisitions; Devaluation; Commoditisation.I think we’re at the Tech Provider Cage Fight phase of this lifecycle right now. I keep a matrix of Native providers and it seems like at least once a week I need to add a new company to the mix. They are all clamouring for marketshare and to get in front of the buyers right now.

Vendors are currently in a cagefight.
Photo credit: Ketrecharc
What we are calling ‘Native’ is here to stay but I think we are in the very early days of this. It’s nothing new, per se, in the media world; it’s been going on for decades. What is new is the ability to deliver it at scale and across publisher sites — the ability to create a marketplace of brand content (i.e. native advertising) for publishers to review and cherry pick.

Here’s are Digiday’s top 5 takeaways:

  • Some are better at it than others: 40 percent of publishers expect native advertising to drive one-fourth or more of their digital revenue this year, while the other 60 percent expect it to generate less than a tenth
  • Publishers are controlling the content: Half of publishers take full editorial control of creating sponsored content; 36 percent let advertisers contribute content on a case-by-case basis
  • Brands are becoming publishers, too: two-thirds of the articles that were distributed on smartphones via Sharethrough’s 1Q campaigns were created by brands themselves, up 31 percent from 4Q 2013
  • Sponsorship method dominates: 41% [of publishers] are pricing ads according to a sponsorship model while 18 percent charge by CPM or cost per engagement
  • Subtle labelling performs better: click-through rates of native ads are 57 percent higher for those with a subtle background color compared to those with a strong background shade. When the font of the “sponsored” label is consistent with the rest of the site, the CTR is 64 percent better than when the font style is unique.

Tumblr inline ads
I think I would add to this list a few things:

  1. Publishers are becoming creatives: In Barcelona recently, at Digiday’s EU Publisher Summit, we heard from Dennis Interactive that journalists are being drawn into Native and recruited to create content for advertisers. This is a very intriguing development that blurs the line between commercial and editorial — not something every publisher will have the temerity to do.
  2. We need to differentiate between Native Content, Native Advertising, and Sponsored Content: It’s still the wild west when it comes to defining what we are talking about and any three marketers will have 5 different terms they use. However, I think an important distinction is between Native plays that keep you on-site and within the publishers domain (Polar, DistroScale) and ones that drive you off the publisher site (Taboola, Outbrain).
  3. Native thrives on mobile: Native works really well in mobile. Twitter and Facebook have shown this. I suspect it’s to do with the scrolly nature of mobile sites. People don’t mind scrolling down screen after screen to read mobile content. Embedding clearly labeled touts within that stream that are relevant and targeted are a great way to not frustrate users and to get your brand stitched right into the content.

Read the whole piece from Digiday on their site: The state of native advertising in 5 data sets | Digiday.

5 takeaways from the Digiday Publishing Summit in Barcelona | Digiday

W BCNEarlier this week I was lucky enough to attend and speak at Digiday’s inaugural European event, the Digital Publisher Forum. The event was a valuable snapshot of the state of the European online ad market in the summer of 2014. Lots of consistent messaging: Native; Programmatic; Mobile; Eroding Publisher Power; ‘Tech Tax’ and other topics that are on everyone’s lips at the moment.

The team was kind enough to prepare a tidy summary of the key themes and takeaways.

I presented on the state and future of Programmatic Trading, with an eye toward risks and opportunities for publishers. One stat I cited was the lack of understanding from CMOs about this type of advertising planning and delivery:

Just 23 percent of CMOs understand programmatic advertising enough to use it in campaigns, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Still, Audra Martin, vp of advertising at the Economist Group, gave a compelling case study. When deployed well, programmatic can allow for premium efficiency at scale.

5 things we learned at the Digiday Publishing Summit in Barcelona | Digiday.

Great News For Native: The New York Times’ Sponsored Content Is As Popular As Its Editorial | The Content Strategist, by Contently

Granted, this piece is authored by someone with some skin in the game (and, full disclosure, so do I) but still, some compelling stats. Paid content as engaging (on a click basis) if not more than ‘straight’ editorial. Just because it’s paid for doesn’t mean it isn’t good. I mean, just look at the Lego Movie for the ultimate example of this.

A United Airlines interactive graphic—produced in partnership with The Times—that showed how far athletes traveled to compete at Sochi. The result was nearly 200,000 clicks—well above the average editorial article.

Great News For Native: The New York Times’ Sponsored Content Is As Popular As Its Editorial | The Content Strategist, by Contently.

MediaPost Publications When Is An Ad An Ad? Only Time Will Tell 05/27/2014

I think we are only beginning to see the tip of the content & native advertising backlash. It’s going to be a rocky road ahead for publishers, advertisers, and tech.

What readers will despise is figuring out that publishers have been greedy participants in a conspiracy of deception. And when they do, nobody will sweat an ad on the cover of Time magazine. Because then the mechanism will go in reverse; the universal mistrust of advertisers will transfer to the publishers who have been helping disguise them. And all parties — except the public — will get what they deserve. — Bob Garfield, MediaPost

MediaPost Publications When Is An Ad An Ad? Only Time Will Tell 05/27/2014.

What you need to know about the brand-new native ad exchanges | VentureBeat

This is an excellent primer from VentureBeat on not just “Native” but also on the fledgling world of native exchanges. The development and adoption of native marketplaces will lead the way for delivering native solutions at scale. The exchanges will make it easier for editors to maintain control over what appears on their sites and for advertisers and brands to operate with transparency and the knowledge that their brand will only be run alongside AAA content.

OpenX Native Solution

From the article:

Native exchanges abide by the same biddable auction structure, but the inventory being bid on is one of the newly recognised native ad formats, such as an in-feed ad or recommendation widget. The key benefit of these new native formats is that they are placed where audiences are already actively looking for content; a study from IPG Media Labs showed that audiences look at native ads 53 percent more frequently than display ads.

From MediaPost:

“We know that marketers’ greatest loss in value is most often inattention to ads,” said Kara Manatt, vice president of consumer research strategy at the IPG Media Lab, and co-author of the new research.

Whether native ads will continue to hold consumers’ attention once their uniqueness wears off is another question, but, as Manatt added: “Past research shows us that neither overly intrusive nor easily ignored ads are effective … This study validates that we are on the right path to finding that middle ground.”

What you need to know about the brand-new native ad exchanges | VentureBeat | Marketing | by Chris Schreiber, Sharethrough.

MSL London Content Marketing Infograph & Report

Here’s an elegant and useful graph from MSL London highlighting some of the key trends in Content Marketing in 2014 and beyond. Some of the key findings of their report:

  1. The “Content Rush” is very real: 91% of companies will produce more content in 2014 than last year and 88% of companies plan to produce even more in 2015.
  2. Companies in the UK are still in the process of laying the groundwork and staffing up to meet these objectives
  3. Many marketers simply aren’t ready for the scope and scale of the content marketing revolution. For example, only 19% have a big enough team dedicated to creating and distributing digital content.
  4. Only a fifth of companies feel they have the right organisational structure in place to fully develop a content marketing strategy.
  5. Despite all this, “51% of companies declare to have more expertise in creating and distributing digital content than last year and 38% have more internal staff dedicated to creating and distributing content for the company.”

MSL London Content Infograph

See the full report and more at: http://www.msllondon.com/blogs/2014/may/7/research-uk-companies-embrace-content-marketing-but-suffer-from-the-content-headache#sthash.BYwCUSTh.dpuf