Media + PR + Analytics

Digital Native is the New Black

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Nicole Etheridge

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LSB Native Advertising

Have you ever noticed a brand advertisement in-feed on Facebook? Or seen a BuzzFeed article feature a specific product in its content? These are examples native advertising—the latest craze in the digital space.
via Business Insider

In the paid media space, native advertising placements intentionally follow the form and function of the site in which they appear. Unlike the standard digital ad units, native ads appear within the editorial feed on the site. Since native units are supposed to have the same look and feel as the site, they are usually co-created with the publisher (or placement) in mind.

Growth of Native Revenues

According to Business Insider, revenues are projected to increase by 31 percent to almost $16 billion in 2017. Social native advertising placements will account for the largest share of that growth with in-feed placements—some estimate that 63 percent of display ads on mobile will be native by 2017.

Below are some examples of the most common types of digital native advertising placements:

In-Feed native

These are the sponsored content found within your newsfeed on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. On mobile, these ads appear in the editorial feed as your scroll through content.
via Sharethrough

Content recommendation units.

These ads are delivered via a widget on the site. Think of the “around the web” section on many news sites.
via Sharethrough

Custom content units.

These are unique to a publisher’s site. A common example would be a sponsored, custom playlist on Pandora. The music on the list is sponsored by a brand and relevant to the brand’s product message.
via Sharethrough


Millennials Prefer Native AdsSlide5

Often referred to as a hard-to-reach, anti-advertising generation, Millennials are frequently misunderstood when it comes to their media consumption preferences. In a study of 300 Millennials, most reported that the key to advertising is the user experience:

  • 80 percent say in-feed native ads are preferred
  • 48 percent say “brands that used in-feed native ads are interested in establishing a positive relationship with them
  • 38 percent say in-feed native ads make them more likely to purchase a brand featured in the content.”
  • 80 percent think it’s important for the headline to be informative
  • 25 percent read headlines only.

The lesson? Advertisers need to make the user experience an essential part of their communication with Millennials.

Are Native Ads Effective?Slide6

Advertisers are drawn to native advertising placements because they are naturally less disruptive. The ad is hyper-contextually targeted to content that readers have actively sought out themselves. In theory, this leads to better engagement, increased awareness and an overall better user experience.

In a study conducted by IPG Media Labs and Sharethrough online users looked at native ads 52 percent more than traditional banner ads. Native ads typically saw a 9 percent lift for brand affinity and an 18 percent lift for purchase intent when compared to standard advertising. In addition, “consumers look at native ads more than the original editorial content.”

Of course, this does not mean one should abandon all banner advertising, as it serves a different purpose in the overall digital ecosystem.

Is Native Right for Your Brand?

Here are some questions to help guide the decision of whether native advertising is right for your brand:

  1. What role will native play in the overall digital brand ecosystem?
  2. Do you have content to use in native environments?
  3. What is the overall user experience? What will happen post click?

Best Practices for Digital Native:

Nielsen in partnership with Yahoo! conducted a study that combined biometrics, eye tracking and surveys to create best practice standards for native advertising. Here is what they found:

  1. People-based images deliver higher fixation on PC and mobile
  2. Larger logos deliver higher recall, action and longer fixation on ads
  3. Native video units benefit from clear labels
  4. 15-second native videos drive greater recall and purchase intent than longer videos
  5. Auto-start ads have higher recall and fixation
  6. Brand mentions do not have as high of an impact as logos
  7. Users tend to fixate on the “more” button on mobile ads

Above all, make sure all ads follow the The Federal Trade Commission guidelines for native advertising.


Nicole Etheridge

Renowned expert on avoiding political ads.

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