It’s quite extraordinary when a new marketing approach needs a new system of measurement to be able to forecast its potential, but the evolution of native advertising is doing exactly that. In 2012, native ad spend in the US was $1.6bn; 2014 is expected to top $2.85bn and few commentators are arguing with eMarketer’s prediction for 2017 of $5bn. Not a figure snatched out of the air but the result of talking to agencies and marketers about their future plans.
Research by FaR in the UK, confirmed that 83% of UK agencies are already making native commitments on behalf of their clients, and the remaining 17% stated that they were going to in the near future. Currently, sponsored or native content is grabbing some 9.2% of the total display ad budget, but a recent panel of media agency directors suggested that they were increasing that to 15% in their 2015 business models.
So, in both the UK and the US, the native format will be on the shelves of all the leading ad agencies; meaning that more and more marketers are likely to be influenced to try, driven by both growing reputation and growing availability. But while that accounts for the volume, what about the quality implicit in that reputation?
Well, here too the statistics tell an amazing tale. Research by IPG found that engagement with native ads by consumers was 53% greater than for display ads, with 32% of those respondents would share that native content with people they knew would be interested.
Such success needs to be rewarded, but it needs to be rewarded in a way that truly reflects its value to the marketer. At the core of the native offer is that engagement with the consumer is greatly improved over traditional display ads.
Metric tools to date have relied on CPC, a fairly blunt measure of whether you’ve caught the consumer’s attention, and the more informative CPM, a good measure of dwell time or the stickiness of the content.
At the moment CPC and CPM are the two measures available on Google Analytics, but the sheer success of native content demands we look for another level. If the claim for native is one of consumer engagement then that is what we have to aim to measure.
Native is a particularly good format to bury opportunities to engage throughout the content, whether in the form of video, games or access to relevant sub-content. Consumer response to each of these opportunities is a pretty good indicator of how robust engagement is throughout the content.
The data coming out of these measures not only helps to build the success of native content, but also helps us to improve the quality of the content we offer. It’s a win-win development; but then that’s the story of native advertising.