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Man in flat dreaming of holiday

Travel: How to save summer 2021 & inspire 2022 bookings

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content Marketing, main blog, Uncategorized

With the school holidays nearly upon us, summer, and traditionally the peak travel period is traditionally just around the corner. Of course, set against the backdrop of Covid, nothing is remotely traditional right now. Travel restrictions are currently being lifted across Europe, so how does the industry make the most of these vital few weeks? What lies ahead for travel in 2022?

Pent up demand

One thing is for sure, there’s an appetite for overseas travel given many people stayed at home in the UK last summer. A new YouGov report has found that Europe is the only global market where consumers named government restrictions over health concerns as a barrier to travel, largely because of the high availability of vaccines across the continent. In the UK, where currently over 86% of the adult population have had at least one jab, 62% of respondents cited travel restrictions, with only 25% selecting health.

Reacting quickly

As the industry has discovered, the current reality is that many holidaymakers are only going to book when restrictions allow, leading to very last-minute bookings. When the UK added the Balearic Islands to the green list in June, allowing Brits to return home without the need for quarantine, online searches for the Spanish archipelago increased by 4,750%, with flights to Ibiza up 900%.

Who to market to?

You may recall the headlines back in January when the first baby boomers received their jabs – TUI reported a jump in bookings, with 50% coming from the over 50’s as confidence increased thanks to the UK’s early start with vaccinations. Well, 6 months later, things have moved on somewhat. YouGov research reveals Millennials and Gen X are now the sweet spot for travel companies in the short term:

“The youngest generation, Gen Z, has been the hardest hit economically but while they have less concern over health risks, a lack of disposable income is holding them back in terms of their ability to travel freely. The oldest generation is on the other side of the coin – with savings due to having spent less in the last year but more concerns around travel.

Somewhere in the middle is the audience travel companies are looking for. Millennials and Gen X on average have the combination of a confidence to travel, lack of immediate health risks and the finances to fund what could be multiple trips in the coming months and years.”

What to say?

It’s fair to say the UK government’s traffic light system hasn’t filled consumers with confidence. In May, Portugal was added and then abruptly removed from the green list, sending tourists scrambling for return flights. Research from Trip Advisor has found that UK traffic was up more than any other market in the past few months, but it’s been somewhat bumpy. Their ‘Have Shot, Will Travel’ report found that:

“In the UK, clicks are up more than any other major market since the turn of the year 4, although the recovery trajectory has not followed a steady upward trend like in the U.S. Instead, much of the growth in search traffic occurred during two spikes in user activity – one in late February, when the UK government announced its plans for a roadmap out of lockdown, and then again in April, as national lockdown restrictions began to ease further.”

Recognising that reassurance is going to be a key factor in persuading UK travellers to book, trade body ABTA has just launched #ReadySteadyTravel – to “help travellers feel informed, reassured, confident and excited to book foreign travel this year”.

Graeme Buck, Director of Communications at ABTA – The Travel Association, said:

“Given how changeable things are at the moment, the campaign will be agile – making sure it responds to the latest developments. Our big focus right now is helping people feel informed about what they need to do, both from a government requirement point of view and checking FCDO advice, but also making sure they have everything else in place, from an up-to-date passport to understanding social distancing measures when travelling. And, of course, we’re also celebrating the return to travel and helping people feel excited about the great experiences you get with an overseas holiday.”

Airport signsWhen to say it

It doesn’t matter if you are looking for last minute bookings or to inspire people for 2022, now is the time to engage with travellers through long-form content. Research from Visit Britain shows the planning phase of summer and autumn trips is happening further in advance, and that the booking of trips is happening far closer to the travel date than usual, with nearly a third of consumers booking just before they travel.

We’ve recently run two travel campaigns with very different messaging – one based on where you can book and travel to right now, and another, a destination guide for whenever restrictions are lifted to that country. The performance of these campaigns was interesting – the right now content achieved a lower CTR but an incredibly strong CTA rate from the page (+10%), indicating that while there’s perhaps a smaller audience for overseas travel in the next few months, those looking for it are incredibly engaged and ready to book in the moment. The destination piece gained an exceptionally high CTR and strong dwell times, indicating that there’s a large audience of people in the research phase for next year.

With so many people ‘in-market’ for travel either this year or next, here’s 5 top tips for producing engaging content for your target audience:

How to engage with travellers during Covid – 5 top tips

Be agile In the current market, be prepared to get a campaign live at the drop of the hat. Have assets ready to go – online article copy is far easier to edit and adapt than things like video, display or rich media, and far faster than print

Be reassuring – consumer confidence is low thanks to several false starts; every piece of content should reassure travellers that both they, and their booking are safe

Be inspiring after an enforced period at home, many of us have been thinking about visiting new places. Research shows people are considering longer and more expensive breaks, so content should reflect this. Create some real Wanderlust!

Be thoughtful – another key takeaway from the pandemic has been the public’s attitude to social purpose. Can you emphasise environmental credentials of a hotel or destination? Is tourism vital to the local economy?

Be emotional –according to Expedia, of those who travelled in 2020, 80% travelled for rejuvenation. Don’t be scared to mention that times have been tough, and that you not only need, but DESERVE a break!

For more on why long form content is key to influencing travellers, visit our blog here. To discuss your travel campaign requirements, please contact us here.

 

The power of words: How altruistic are we?

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content Marketing, main blog, Native advertising, Uncategorized

As we navigate an exit from Covid restrictions, how altruistic we are as a nation has been brought into sharp focus. Should you have the vaccine to protect yourself, others, or a combination of both? While vaccine hesitancy is very low in the UK compared with other countries, when trying to persuade the population to get vaccinated, it’s a good idea to understand what motivations will work, what buttons to push. In many ways, it’s no different to advertising any other product – what are the features and benefits?!

Different countries have taken different approaches. From over a hundred million dollars of vaccine lottery prize money in California, to promoting the tantalising prospect of the things that we love reopening in France:

In the UK of course, we have stickers. Everyone loves a sticker, right? Whilst it probably isn’t the number one reason for getting your jab, the language you use to get people there might be. One of the most notable changes in tack came when sending texts to the under 40’s in the UK.

The language had been tweaked from a more formal “You have been invited to book your Covid vaccination” used in older age groups, to an invite using the phrase “You have reached the top of the queue” and words like “priority” – as many noted, the text had been gamified – YOU are the winner!

Why words matter

When promoting a product or service, how altruistic should you assume your target audience are? Here’s two recent briefs I’ve worked on recently that both raised this question. One was for a FMCG product that had new green credentials, and another for some university courses in subjects that would certainly be for the common good. So, here’s the question – when enticing readers via headlines, should your focus be on what the product /service can do for you, or how it can help others?

Test and discover

We will often A/B test around 6 headlines for each True Native article, so there is always an opportunity to be proved wrong, but on the whole headlines which provide a clear benefit to the user will outperform those which don’t list any benefit to the reader. As altruistic as we would like to think we are, a good outcome for the user will usually trump all else.

How to craft content that performs

With this is mind, here’s three ways to ensure you’re producing content that pushes all the right buttons:

1. Think about the benefits to the buyer’s life

How can buying here cut my commute? How can this product help my skin? What experiences can I have on this holiday? Sell the dream!

2. Educate – The value exchange

Provide useful information that the reader will find valuable – the more engaging it is, the longer they’ll spend with your brand and content

3. Use emotive, aspirational adjectives

Words like stylish, amazing, luxury, stunning, dream, perfect – promise something valuable or emotionally stimulating. And in turn, generate high CTRs

 

Influencers on mobile

For influencers with impact, look closer to home…

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content, Content Marketing, main blog, Uncategorized

It’s been a rough couple of months for influencers. From ‘working’ holiday trips in the peak of the pandemic, to being caught using filters to boost the results of beauty products, it’s fair to say the general public’s view of those who ‘insta’ for a living is probably at an all-time low.

Pre-COVID, YouGov and Grey London found 96% of people do not trust influencers, as what started as a once noble profession, spiralled out of control. Has this stopped brands working with influencers? Nope. Not when the majority of millennials admit to having been influenced by a social media content creator, and that despite growing mistrust in social media platforms, 25% of us say we are using them more.

Are all influencers the same?

So, what counts as an influencer? Well, the dictionary definition is quite simply “a person or thing that influences another.” In marketing terms, we expand this to include the idea that this person has the ability to boost their audience’s purchase intent of a particular product or service though content. But are all influencers someone we haven’t met, or someone being paid by a brand to promote their wares? Quite simply, no. There are more credible unpaid influencers right under your nose…

It’s often said that the very best form of advertising is word of mouth, but is that an analogue proposition in a digital age? Not quite – according to Nielsen, 92% percent of worldwide consumers say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. But the word-of-mouth recommendation has to start somewhere – so if the recommender hasn’t themselves used the product or service; how do they recommend?

So, what if the information came from the brand and the message was delivered by word-of-mouth? Well, that’s what we’ve been measuring digitally for the past six years – we look at how many people have read brand content in our premium publisher environments in two ways: article page reads where the user has come through a sponsored headline unit, and reads from those who have arrived by way of a shared link.

Growth of messaging apps

Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014 as they viewed it as a major rival with explosive growth – they were right. In the UK, around 80% of 18-44s use the platform – it has 50% more users than Instagram. You might not think of them as direct competitors, but they both do the same thing, share content – it’s just one is in private, and one is in public.

Social Platform users graph

Which brings us back to our analysis of sharing across out network. Six years ago, the majority of sharing we saw was public – on Facebook and Twitter (via the sharing buttons on articles), now it’s private – sending the URL via What’s app, iMessage, email. On many campaigns, we’ll see hundreds of additional reads registered this way – essentially word-of-mouth delivery from your family or friends, and we all know the power of a personal recommendation.

We run across every vertical from B2B to Travel, but I wanted to look at some of the best performing campaigns we’ve seen recently over a selection of categories. 

Sharing percentages by vertical graph

As you can see, one clearing campaign for a university achieved almost a quarter of its page views via sharing – the content focused on what university was going to look like in September 2020, so answered many prospective students’ questions in an uncertain time. Other verticals that performed well were property (How to buy an apartment in London for under 400k), and Home & Garden (How to get a fantastic lawn in time for summer). So, what’s the recipe for success?

What makes content sharable?

The value exchange: either lots of insightful details about a product or service I think you’ll be interested in, or brand content that provides useful tips and tricks to help the user

Trust and Authority: A university writing about how to complete your UCAS application, a housing developer explaining how Help to Buy works, a haircare brand with tips for keeping your lockdown locks perfect. There must be synergy between the brand and the content

Well-structured content: 75%+ of traffic is mobile and it’s likely that your content will be shared on mobile, so think short punchy paragraphs, bullets, bold and sub-headlines that help navigate the user through the content

So next time the discussion turns to influencers, consider the value of engaging brand content in credible publisher environments. Get it right and it could well have the additional impact of being sent by the ultimate influencers – friends and family!

 

Family with two kids in masks in airport

Pitching for tourists: How and when to market post COVID-19 travel

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content Marketing, main blog, Uncategorized

Unquestionably, travel has been one of the hardest hit sectors since COVID-19 hit. New data from Pubmatic has revealed a 96% drop in ad spend from the first week of March to the second week of April, as country after country locked down, and airlines pulled flights.

As we hurtle towards June, we’re starting to see some green shoots, as thankfully infection rates decline across Europe. Flights are once again being scheduled, with British Airways predicting “a meaningful return” to the sky from July.    

The importance of tourism

Many countries who are heavily reliant on tourism, such as Spain and Italy (around 12 – 15% of GDP), already have plans to bring visitors back as soon as possible. Sicily announced that it will discount plane tickets and pay for every third night in hotels in an effort to lure back tourists. Spain’s tourism minister has said they hope to welcome foreign tourists back by the end of June.

After the banking crisis in which the country was badly hit, Iceland turned to tourism, which now accounts for 9% of GDP.  The country is already preparing for tourists in June who will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at Reykjavik airport.

In Britain, the focus has turned to domestic tourism to save the summer season. Visit Britain have proposed an extra bank holiday later this year to help businesses who were closed during the first stage of lockdown. Domestic tourism alone is worth £80 billion a year to the UK economy.

Advertising when?

The Irish Examiner recently reported that Tourism Ireland are tendering for a COVID-19 research programme. It’s essentially a piece of work designed to tell them when to begin marketing Ireland as a tourist destination again.

This week, Visit Scotland reported “a slow but steady return to traffic on visitscotland.com and an upturn in long lead (90+days) flight bookings.

Given the long consideration phase when booking a holiday (see our blog on Why long form content is key to influencing travellers) and strong signs that we’re moving to a more optimistic phase (see Why your brand content should now be optimistic), perhaps that time should be now?

Hitting the right notes

Getting the tone right in the current climate will be key – I’ve already seen some great campaigns including Visit Switzerland’s activity-packed “Dream now, travel later”…

Visit Britain have grouped a selection of quintessentially British content together, creating a hub containing everything from recipes you can make at home, to 360 degree videos, and articles on binge-worthy British TV shows.

Finally, Travel Saint Lucia have been hosting live streams twice a week, showcasing activities from kite surfing to live island sunsets. There’s also been interactive content you can join in with, from cooking classes to yoga classes with a stunning backdrop!

Remaining front of mind

All these campaigns have one thing in common – encouraging us to think ahead to when we can travel again. Those that remain front of mind will benefit the most when people start booking in serious numbers again.

Let us help you generate some wanderlust ahead of re-opening. Contact us today to see how we create and distribute inspiring on-brand travel content that performs.

 

Couple of man and woman sitting back to back and reading

Clearing 2020 – how to attract home students

By | Banner - Content Creation, main blog, Uncategorized

The government announced today that students will be receiving their A Level results on 13th August, meaning that universities and their media agencies now have a firm date in the diary to start planning this year’s clearing campaigns.

Despite not sitting exams – 9 out of 10 students say they are continuing their application as planned according to a recent Ucas and YouthSight study. Ucas said:

“Overall applicant behaviour in the 2020 cycle is currently consistent with previous cycles, with the expected number of new applicants each week, and no significant moves to change firm choices or providers, or to defer entry, so far.”

Student concerns

It’s obviously been an unusual year, with grades decided by teacher’s assessments and a wait to discover when results will be announced. As such, the same survey found that:

“Over half (51%) of respondents feel supported at the moment, but want more help. While 37% said felt fully supported now, this is higher amongst white applicants (40%) and lower amongst BAME applicants (29%).”

How content can help

One way universities can help is by producing and distributing useful content that addresses head-on their potential student’s concerns. Some of the best performing articles we’ve run for universities have done just that:

Practical guides to student finance
Articles addressing how to socialise at university
How clearing works and is it for you?
How to balance life with studying
What to expect from your first week

As well as helping with practical advice, you’ve also the chance to explain how your university is best placed to support potential students, remaining front of mind during the selection process.

Who’s your audience?

It’s also a concerning time for UK universities, with overseas students who account for a third of all tuition fees, likely to arrive in far fewer numbers this academic year.

Last year a record number of students found a course through clearing. This, combined with a rush to recruit home students, is likely to make this year’s clearing process even more competitive and important for institutions. 

Why now is the time for engagement online

As we enter the second phase of lockdown, we’ve seen engagement rates increase across our network of premium publishers as screen time increases. With other channels, notably OOH and print are challenged at this time, we’re able to help repurpose assets quickly to get campaigns away while attention time is high. Contact us today to see how we can help you plan a tactical campaign.

 

World Travel

Why long form content is key to influencing travellers

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Content, Content Marketing, main blog, Uncategorized

2019 has been turbulent for the travel industry. 17 airlines have gone bust so far this year including heritage brand (and high street travel agent) Thomas Cook. As a parliamentary enquiry examines the reasons behind the company’s collapse, it’s clear there were multiple factors – from a botched merger to a pile of debt.

However, one reason that can’t be overlooked is changing consumer habits. According to trade body ABTA, only one in seven of us booked our holiday with a high street travel agent last year, and of those people it tended to be older and less wealthy consumers.

For most of us, both the starting and end points of planning and booking a holiday is now online, with many of us choosing to be our own travel agent, purchasing our flights and accommodation separately. But this user journey is far from simple – research from Expedia shows that in the 45 days before making a purchase, British travel consumers visit travel sites an average of 121 times!

Family seaside holiday

Decisions, decisions!

Perhaps the most surprising finding from the same report is that:

“More than half of British online travel shoppers begin their research with multiple destinations in mind — 54% are still considering multiple destinations when they begin their travel booking journey”

So, with nearly half of all consumers open minded regarding destinations, the opportunity for tourist boards, hotels, airlines and OTE’s (Online travel agents) has never been greater – with three quarters of the 50 million of us online in the UK engaging specifically with travel content.

January blues

As we approach peak booking period in the UK, when around 5 million brits secure their getaway each January, now is the time to inspire potential bookers and get front of mind. The way to do that? Inspirational long form content. Indeed, 65% of us are influenced by brand content while planning their trip according to travelagentcentral.com

Cruise Holiday Sunshine

So, what works?

We’ve run hundreds of travel campaigns over the past few years for hotels, airlines, train operators, cruise lines, OTE’s and tourist boards. Here’s three reoccurring content ideas that I’ve noticed driving the best engagement for our clients:

Think ahead – as summer draws to a close, minds turn towards Christmas markets. As the cold dark nights of January hit us hard, thoughts turn towards sunshine and beaches. There’s a good reason the BBC schedule Caribbean detective drama Death in Paradise each January! Use these themes in both article copy and headlines to connect with your audience.

Specialist Themes. Run multiple articles aimed at different interest groups. Think foodies, adventure travellers, solo travellers and even train geeks. Some of the best performing content we’ve run has targeted specialist interest groups, rather than just a broad-brush approach to a destination or country. You genuinely wouldn’t believe how many people love trains…

Build an itinerary. Successful brand content usually includes one of two things – useful or interesting information (and hopefully both!). It’s what we call the value exchange between advertiser and audience. City breaks are now the nation’s favourite getaway, and by their very nature, tend to be for a long weekend. “48 hours in the city of your choice” is a fantastic format that hooks the reader and provides useful information.

For more insights into native travel campaigns or to book a campaign, please contact us

 

Dissecting 2017’s full year IAB UK Adspend results

By | Uncategorized

So, the headline news at the IAB yesterday was that the UK’s digital advertising market is up 14.3% YOY and was worth a staggering £11.55bn last year. The numbers have finally been crunched and there’s some interesting nuggets in the report which we, along with all the key players from publishing groups and adtech companies, submit to twice a year. The key takeaways are:

  • Smartphones are driving the bulk of the growth – an increase of 37% YOY
  • 45% of all digital advertising is delivered on smartphones
  • Online video is now the largest display format – accounting for 39%

Separating native and sponsored content

From a native perspective, one of the interesting changes to themethodology is separating sponsored content from native. As native advertising becomes a catch-all, encompassing click-out formats and promoted social media posts, it’s become important to work out exactly what is stay on site brand content and what may have simply shifted from traditional display budgets. For the record, Native (which includes Facebook and Twitter) is now worth over £1 billion, with sponsored content making up £124 million.

Growth chart

Video formats shift

Pre-post roll has lost its crown as the largest video format, having been overtaken by outstream in 2017. With budgets shifting from television to online, this could be because of limited pre-roll availability and the need to find audiences online at scale.

The growth of the private market place (PMP)

With 4/5 of display budgets being traded programmatically, it’s clear that programmatic has been a huge success. What’s more interesting is the shift to programmatic direct – up 10% YOY and now making up 63% of trading. Mary Healy from Accenture is Chair of IAB UK’s Display & Data Steering Group. She said:

”Programmatic direct and PMPs will continue to take the lion’s share of the spend as brands realise that context is just as important as it is in other media. 2017 certainly highlighted a number of concerns across the digital media ecosystem, which has forced the industry to re- evaluate many of the practices we had followed in the past”

With GDPR looming, it could be that these deals – essentaillty selling named inventory rather than just finding the audience regardless of the environment, will grow further during 2018. A lack of reliable data combined with brand safety fears could well mean that buyers are increasingly looking for high quality, contextually relevant publisher environments rather than open RTB.

Digital is the big winner

Finally, gazing into the crystal ball, GroupM predict that digital will outperform the UK ad market again in 2018 – a 10% increase versus 4.8% generally. One thing is clear – as we continue to look downwards on our smartphones, spend on digital continues to head upwards.

 

How to split your ad budget in 2018

By | Uncategorized

3 ways to split your ad budget

With the new financial year comes a new advertising budget – but are you spending yours as wisely as possible? The savviest advertisers are in on the secret that there are three particularly important ways to invest your native ad budget in 2018. Bump these to the top of the priority list to give yourself the best chance of success…

Three is the magic number

It’s that time of year again when advertisers set about the task of allocating the budget for the coming months. While it might be daunting to deviate from the tried and tested plans of old, the most successful marketers set aside a try and test budget for new channels – those who have yet to try native content might want to consider branching out.

But first, as any good multi-tasker understands, you need to work out your top priorities in order to make the wisest decisions for your business.

In an interview with the Native Advertising Institute (NAI), Trine Lundahl, Client Service Director at Aller Media, recommends that advertisers invest in three core areas: production, testing and distribution. It’s on these three pillars that the success of your native advertising campaign is likely to rest.

Let’s take a closer look…

Production. Investment in production is crucial; without the right content resonating with your target audience, the power of native is severely compromised. And without high quality content that offers real value, native is reduced to the same relevancy as the rest of the background noise – i.e. the countless other ads you’re fighting to be heard over.

Testing. Testing is critical to allow you to both scale and convert your content that’s performing best. It’s a smart tactic to try multiple pieces of content to see which perform best. Then you can take the learnings from this when briefing the next batch. Just remember to clearly define how and at what point during the process you’re going to test format and content, right from the start.

Distribution. There’s no point in having top notch content if nobody gets to see it. Your budget needs to focus on getting that quality content out there and in front of the right eyes. This can be done by investing time and money in distributing the content in credible editorial environments to allow new audiences to discover it.

So, you can see what needs to be done. The real question is: do you try to accomplish it all yourself, or bring in a network that can help with the planning and execution of campaigns to simplify spend and give you a welcome breather?

Collaboration with an agency – is it for you?

DIY is a tempting approach, at least on the surface. By shouldering the burden yourself you can cut down on spend. However, not only will you be limited to the level of expertise you possess and the resources at your disposal, but it may also take much longer to implement your strategy.

The production, testing and distribution stages of a native advertising campaign are increasingly significant and important to success. Anyone looking to invest their budget wisely should be particularly aware of these elements and how they should feed into campaign planning and strategy, or else look to partner with an agency that can demonstrate this understanding.

At TAN Media, we combine all three for end-to-end campaign management and in-depth analysis, allowing our customers to simplify their budget, reduce production time and enjoy access to premium publishers.

To find out more about true native for advertisers, contact us today.

Confused man

Why native advertising is having an identity crisis

By | Uncategorized

I’ve just read an extremely thought provoking article on what I believe to be the biggest challenge to both the native advertising industry (publishers and networks) and media agencies looking to sell native in to clients.

I didn’t just read Chad Pollitt’s piece ‘Native Advertising has a Terminology Problem. And It’s Not Pretty.’ once through – I read it three times. Not because Chad didn’t make sense, but because we’ve got to the stage where even for someone in the thick of this industry, I was still briefly confused.

If someone who works day in, day out in native advertising is having to re-read definitions, then what hope do media buyers (working across multiple platforms, media and formats) have? If one person’s native is Outbrain, and another’s long-form content on a premium publisher, then we have a problem. And that’s before we even look at the myriad of hybrids in the UK market.

Back to basics

Perhaps, it’s best to start with what most people agree is the definition of native advertising:

“Native advertising is paid advertising (media) where the ad matches the form, feel and function of the content of the media on which it appears.” (Native Advertising Institute)

This snappy description seems bulletproof, but it only tells half the story. It accurately describes the sponsored headline unit, the social media sponsored post – the shop window if you like. It’s what happens next which really defines the native format. What happens once the user has read the headline and clicked?

It’s all about the content

This brings us to the content. There’s long been confusion in the market between content marketing and native advertising.

This is one of the easier definitions to solve: Content marketing = your brand content. Native = the distribution channel. I could get into content marketing vs advertorial here (not overtly mentioning your product vs it being all about your product) but that will have to wait for another day.

Social media is somewhat ‘ronseal’ – a sponsored tweet looks like any other tweet, the same for Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook. These usually contain heightened CTAs such as the ‘Learn more’ or ‘Shop now’ banner on Instagram, before clicking to brand sites. Often, the post is simply re-targeting.

There is content, right?

So, what about the traditional publisher’s site? This is where it gets confusing for media buyers. I’d argue it’s all about what happens post-click. This is where the definition of native advertising seems to be far too broad. Any of the following could happen – the headline unit:

  • leads to content on the same publisher’s site
  • leads to content hosted on the brand site
  • opens up a lightbox containing brand content
  • plays video
  • doesn’t actually lead to any content at all. It’s a headline unit that simply clicks to a product page!

Essentially, your headline unit could behave in several different ways and in some instances, is no more than a re-badged direct response banner ad.

Here’s my attempt to clarify the main (non-video) formats on publisher’s sites:

Native advertising (sponsored content)

Non-programmatic, publisher direct sold headline units that lead to article pages in the same premium environment.

True Native (sponsored content)

Non-programmatic, ad served headline units that lead to article pages in the same premium environment.

Native display

An in-feed headline unit on a publisher site that clicks to a brand site which may or may not contain content marketing. Usually programmatic demand from exchanges and often re-targeting.

Content recommendation

The likes of Outbrain, Taboola and Rev. Self-serve headline units which click out, usually in blocks of 6 or 12 at the bottom of article pages. Usually DR campaigns or arbitrage.

Should ‘native advertising’ be redefined?

Chad argues that the confusion in the market is all about the definitions of types of content, I’d argue that there’s far more confusion over what a headline unit does.

Perhaps now is the time to separate premium sponsored content (in editorial environments) from what recent IAB UK native conference called ‘next generation display advertising’. Perhaps, the term ‘native advertising’ has had its day!

fake news

Why ‘fake news’ is good news for real publishers

By | Native advertising, Uncategorized

Probably already a frontrunner for phrase of the year, ‘fake news’ is the phenomenon everyone from politicians to publishers; tech companies to the man on the street, is talking about.

Whilst the blame for fake news has been laid squarely at the door of Facebook, indeed it’s forced the world’s biggest social media platform to fact check some of the content on its site, it has caused publishers to take stock and consider the quality of third party content on their own websites.

That content is invariably ad tech, from standard display units, to native advertising, video providers, and content recommendation. Are the ads being run trustworthy? This is particularly important in the programmatic age where they could have been served through a myriad of exchanges.

If not knowing where an advert has come from is a problem for publishers, the reverse is now true for advertisers – not knowing where your ad will actually be served has become a real issue. A recent Times investigation led to some of the world’s biggest brands pausing all programmatic advertising as their ads were found on websites apparently funding extremist groups.

Finding audience at the expense of losing control of the environment, suddenly doesn’t seem quite as smart.

Native: One size fits all?

Native advertising as a term encompasses everything that ‘mirrors the form and function’ of the property it sits on – from a promoted Facebook post or tweet to a sponsored article within the editorial feed, right through to content recommendation.

Because of this execution, trust has never been more important. And there lies the problem – how can a user uploaded misleading ‘get rich quick’ headline, clicking out to a dubious website be lumped into the same category as the lauded New York Times content for Netflix’s Orange is New Black?

Time to grasp the opportunity     

So where does this leave native advertising? There’s no denying how important it’s become for publishers – The Atlantic makes 75% of its ad revenue from sponsored content, Condé Nast Britain, over half of its digital earnings. But this is from high quality, clearly labelled articles – a world away from some of the clickbait washing around the web.

BI Intelligence estimates that Native ads will drive 74% of all ad revenue by 2021. Whilst this will be led by the dominant social platforms, one interesting nugget is that:

“Sponsored content, which is categorised separately from native-display due to the direct relationship between publishers and brands in creating the format, will be the fastest-growing native format over the next five years.”

The renaissance of traditional publishers    

Traditional publishers have a challenge to adapt to the digital world, but the one good thing to come out of the past few months is that, in the words of Luis Hernandez, ‘…fake news is making real publishers look good’. Sites with paywalls like the NYT have seen a surge in subscriptions and UK national newspaper sites a 16% year-on-year uplift to 31.5m daily uniques (Dec 2016).

Why premium sites need premium ad tech     

So here’s the question for publishers: You’ve worked hard to build the trust of your audience. Why would you do anything to diminish that by running poor quality ads, clicking out to some questionable places?

The real value for premium publishers is in running high quality, clearly labelled, stay-on-site sponsored content which maintains trust and delivers value to both the reader and the media owner.

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