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.

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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.

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