I visited New York City a few years ago, and like every tourist in Manhattan, I wanted to see all the big sites. Looking back, I would say Times Square was the most impactful. As I pushed my way into the street, all I noticed were lights -- the lights that were part of the many ads taking over the area. But ask me what brands were displayed on those ads, and I wouldn’t be able to name one.
There's certainly a place for this type of advertising; just like there is a place for more subdued forms of traditional advertising, like billboards and magazine ads. But let's consider another option. Native ads bring something else to the table. Native ads embed quizzes, articles, videos, infographics and more into the context of a host piece. They offer something to the user such as information, entertainment or solutions -- all of which blend into the background of whatever platform they appear.
The popularity of native ads is on the rise. Business Insider reports spending on native ads will reach $7.9 billion this year and $21 billion by 2018. Who are the heavy hitters?
When you think of native advertising, you often think of publishers. Big name magazines have quickly jumped on the native advertising bandwagon for a reason -- they engage users. When you place native ads within an article, not only does it blend in, but it also enriches the conversation, bringing forth new ideas about the overall topic at hand.
Since they do not seem overly promotional or spammy, users are more likely to engage in the ad, and stay on the site for longer.
According to a study by IPG Media Labs, users look at native ads at a 53 percent higher rate than banner ads. Furthermore, 32 percent of these individuals would share those ads with people in their circles. Sharing ads is not common practice among friends, so this is big. “The key is in experience and engagement," said Moti Cohen, CEO of Apester. "When the audience feels they are part of the story, they engage more and conversions for brand awareness or performance are better.”
2. Mobile apps.
The world is becoming more mobile-first everyday, so it makes sense that native ads would move in that direction as well. According to research by Yahoo, native advertising results in a 114 percent increase in top of mind awareness as compared to other ad formats.
Since the same study found the click through rate to be at least triple, this ad format has become more and more appealing to the mobile advertising industry.
“In my business, we see native ads as more than another way to monetize an app," said Elad Natanson of Appnext. Native ads are so popular among developers today because in the right setting, they appear as content extensions of the app itself. When an ad becomes a part of the app’s content, engagement increases, revenues increase and even more important -- user retention grows. When retention grows, revenue grows accordingly. For our developers, it’s a win-win situation."
3. Social media.
The average person has five social media accounts, spends about an hour and 40 minutes browsing those accounts each day, and checks the accounts 17 times a day. (Admit it, you probably got to this article from Twitter, didn’t you?). If we’re checking social media every hour we’re awake, then it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that brands are flocking to social media advertising.
In-feed ads on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and others have become part of the norm. Brands can target their niche audience and serve up advertisements that subtly blend into our news feeds. If done well, users won’t even notice it’s an ad -- they’ll click simply because they see a great piece of content that matches their interests. In addition, native ads on social media can boost brand credibility because users can like, comment and share. The more social proof, the higher your brand’s authority.
As you can see, native ads are trending because of what they offer the user. Instead of bombarding them with unwanted messages, native ads bring value by feeding the user information and entertainment without being tacky or spammy.
For this reason, industries that have taken advantage of all native formats have to offer are booming. They are forming better relationships with users and experiencing greater loyalty.
What do you think of native ads being used in these industries? Share your experience in the comments.