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”.
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.