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Yahoo’s native endorsement

By | Native advertising

Little more than a year ago, the native ad industry was growing but there was not much performance data to support the native growth forecasts. Today, that has all changed and few advertisers or publishers are coming forward to dispute that the native advertising format is going to be a mainstream choice for budget allocation in the future.

Yahoo’s big data

The latest data from Yahoo shows just how large a chunk of ad revenue is going the native route. Of more importance is their data on the effectiveness of that native ad spend; the Gemini platform is open to both mobile search and in-stream native display opportunities and they say quite categorically that native far outperforms the more conventional display ads.

From their most recent consumer research work, Yahoo give us some encouraging top line insights; for example, 60% of consumer respondents ‘feel positive’ about native ads which, given the general scepticism often expressed by consumers about advertising in general, is a pretty amazing result.

Perhaps the most fundamental insight though, is Yahoo’s assertion that the more transparent the source and purpose of the native material, the more effective it appears to be. Once again, this sends a very clear message to those who see the native format as devious and dishonest: native doesn’t need to be underhanded to work and disreputable content simply won’t work.

Key results from the Yahoo study show that in advertiser site view-through, the percentage lift for in-stream material was 181% against 47% for normal industry display – or a factor of 3.9 times. For branded search activity, the lift for in-stream material was 204%, as opposed to only 56% for normal display. These aren’t just big percentages on a small base either; eMarketer, one of the industry’s leading forecasters, are suggesting that, in the US alone, native will command around $5 billion by 2017.

Not surprisingly, given this sort of data, more that 80% of advertisers are planning to commit to native content, giving native the highest growth prediction – some 13%, according to the Native Advertising Report “Advertiser Perceptions 2014”.

Digital mobility

One of the biggest growth areas is in the mobile platforms, with smartphones and tablets now accounting for the majority of all online searches. Invasive display ads are particularly annoying for consumers on the smaller formats as they interfere with (and often overlay) the searched content. Because native is woven contextually alongside the editorial content, providing both relevance and a next-step opportunity, it is not in a distracting and adversarial relationship with the host content.

The consumer is likely to be consciously cycling between editorial and native content, gathering value from both on the journey without the constant focal changes that dynamic digital display approaches can force.

For advertisers, the media landscape has developed dramatically in the last 20 years, with more options appearing every month; what seems certain though, is that the native format is now a fundamental choice for future marcomms.

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When in Rome do as the Romans do; a basic guide to Native Advertising

By | Marketing, Native advertising

Through all the hype and furore over the power of native advertising – not to mention the thousands of words that have been generated within the industry about how it is the future of brand promotion as we know it – we haven’t quite completed the job of explaining exactly what it is and how you do it. Preferably in plain English.

Neil Bedwell from Coca Cola put it pretty simply at the Native Advertising Summit. “What we do every-day is try to create content that consumers want to see/view as much as non-branded content.”

OK so far; we’re not just hitting the customer with a garish banner ad, we know the researchers tell us the reader has learned to ignore those anyway. As Solve Media put it so succinctly in 2013, “you’re more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad!

According to Bedwell, what they put up is content that appeals as much as non-branded content. Patrick Albano from Yahoo helps us to narrow that down; speaking at the same conference he said, “The challenge with native is finding that sweet spot between fitting in and standing out.”

So what does that actually mean? The native ad starts with the reader; where are they (in media terms e.g. online or browsing through a magazine) and why have they come to that place? Are they looking for information or entertainment? The answer is probably a combination of both. The editorial team will know their readership; they’ll know how to write for them and how to use images and video to make that experience as rich as possible, in the reader’s terms.

With a native strategy, the advertisers doesn’t just take advantage of the fact that the reader’s there and attempt to grab their attention; instead, they seamlessly become a part of why the reader is there, they become part of that experience.

Take a recent native ad by Purina, who make a fair chunk of the world’s pet food. They ran “5 heart-warming stories that prove dog is man’s best friend”; stories of dogs saving lives, mourning lost owners; all the sort of stuff that we dog owners can’t get enough of. The thing is there wasn’t a mention of dog food anywhere in the piece.

A waste of Purina’s money? No, because that simple piece got 20,000 ‘shares’; not just read but actually forwarded to friends and other dog owners by the readers, each share taking the subtle Purina branding with it.

The first step is to embrace the visual style of the host media; not to mimic or to deceive, but to embrace the values that have brought the reader here. Imagine how you feel when watching an absorbing movie on TV and suddenly it goes to a break with an ad that combines ghastly loud music with fatuous visuals; the mood has gone, the power of the movie lost. Display ads can be like that for readers, but native ads simply join the story.

It’s not just the look and feel either, a native ad has to talk directly to the reader in their language. The Purina ‘Heart Warming’ native ad would sit comfortably in The Sun or The Mirror; but for the Times or the Guardian would probably need to cut back on the emotion and explore instead the psychology of the dog or the history of the relationship between man and dog. However, still without a mention of dog food!

Perhaps Dave Rollo of BLiNQ Media says it best, “Native ads are part of the content – they are very different because they’re not different.”

With native advertising we have to trust in the power of not trying to sell anything to allow our brand to bond with the customer through the mutual interest expressed in the content.

According to Robert de Niro, “Italy has changed but Rome is Rome.” Brands could do well to do as the Romans do.

Yahoo’s News Digest gets UK launch

By | Marketing, Technology

US-based internet corporation launches its mobile news service News Digest for the UK market.

Imagine combining a bi-daily newspaper frisson with all the technological advantages of up-to-date mobile content. This is the aim of Yahoo’s latest venture, which was introduced to the UK this week.

The app product, developed by Nick D’Aloisio, founder of the Summly summarising app, offers users a synopsis of leading news stories twice a day for iPhone and iPod touch.

This is in response to a news trawl that many consumers, according to Yahoo, can find “overwhelming”.  Read More