The challenge for native advertising today is to effectively explain to the world exactly what native advertising is; that’s the only conclusion you can reach from the latest Copyblogger’s 2014 State of Native Advertising report.
Given the incredible level of exposure that native advertising has enjoyed over the past year, the actual statistics are quite surprising. According to the report some 49% of marketers are still unable to define how native advertising works as a strategy, and 23% were unable to identify the sort of content that would fall within our understanding of native advertising.
According to Ginny Martin, from industry specialist Marketing Land, the responses were rather surprising, as publishers are generally welcoming new revenue and advertisers recognise the value of including value in the promotion as well as the product.
However, anyone who has been in marketing for a few years, especially in new product and service development, will recognise the signs well. Native advertising has captured the ‘early adopters’, those advertisers who are aware that you just can’t go on doing the same thing and expect the same response ad infinitum; and offered publishers a new way of bringing in revenue when there’s such a huge amount of free stuff available.
So, time to take stock and have a look at the numbers that Copyblogger produced. Apparently only 9% of businesses have a dedicated native advertising budget, with the vast majority of those spending less than $100 a month, less than lunch with one client!
5% spend between $101 and $500 per month and 16 out of 2088 survey respondents putting more than $5000 a month behind their native strategy. The survey, with unusual honesty for marketing statistics, did mentioned that, of those higher spenders, 97% declared a lack of familiarity with the ad model.
So, native advertising – all hype and no budget? When Unilever are sinking £7m into their native advertising budget and Dell computers have just hooked up with the New York Times, the whole native advertising phenomena doesn’t have the feel of the Titanic about it.
Perhaps it’s the fear of the new. Those with around thirty years in marketing will probably remember the frequent ‘what do we need a website for’ and ‘that internet thing will never come to anything’. Well, at the last look that internet thing seemed to be doing quite well.
What will really make a difference is more good quality data on native advertising performance. Asking an advertiser to drop their traditional attention grabbing, sell off the page, display ads in favour of some subtly branded informative and useful content is like trying to convince a newbie that they really will enjoy their bungee jump; it’s a leap of faith in more ways than one!
One thing that doesn’t change in marketing is that positive word of mouth is still the most powerful recommendation. Once we’ve all spoken to someone who’s experienced the power of the native effect then we’ll take a chance with our precious marketing budgets.
So far we know that readers spend the same amount of time on sponsored content as they do on the editorial content and that there’s more click through from native content than display content. Over to you native advertisers, let’s have more good native content about how native content has worked for the advertisers who have used it; native advertising is built on the premise of creating trust with the target audience, now let’s prove it.
It happened with the Internet and, when you look at the size of the prize, pretty soon we’ll all be going native too.