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Native advertising made simple

New advertising formats are proliferating everywhere in this fast-paced digital world. One format that has been around for a long time but is suddenly seeing rapid growth as a trusted method for brands is Native Advertising.

According to a report by Business Insider, Native will drive 74 per cent of all ad revenue by 2021. While the largest segment of native ad spending is in social media, the fastest growing segment is native-style display, which is expected to grow by more than 200 per cent over the next two years. For developing economies like the Philippines, this growth trajectory is even more pronounced, as it begins to reap the gains from increasing internet penetration, expanding smartphone adoption and streaming capabilities.

There are continued investments and new guidelines to ensure native advertising is executed well with content in the right tone and message; however, there is still a lack of an understanding of the types of native ad units and formats available in the market. Many have tried to explain it, but due to its diversity in formats, there remains confusion around what it is exactly and what its sub-formats are.

Defining Native Advertising

Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi has done a great job in distilling native advertising into three main attributes:

• A Directly Paid Opportunity. I hate to bring out the obvious, but native advertising is “pay to play”. If a brand or individual did not pay for the spot, it’s not native advertising.
• Usually Content Based. The information is useful, interesting and highly targeted to the specific readership. So, in all likelihood, it’s not an advertisement promoting the company’s product or service directly.
• Delivered In-Stream. To truly be a native ad, the user experience is not disrupted. The advertising is delivered in a way that does not impede the normal behavior of the user in that particular channel.

“Again, the goal of native advertising (at least for definition purposes) is to not disrupt the user experience…to offer information that is somewhat helpful and similar to the other information on the site so that the content is engaged with at a higher rate than, say, a banner ad (this is good for advertisers, and if the content is truly useful, good for consumers),” says Joe.

If you are completely unfamiliar with native advertising, I highly recommend reading Joe Pulizzi’s Ultimate Guide.

When I speak with marketers or agency partners about native ads, there is often some disconnect between our technical interpretations of it because “native” as a general term encompasses numerous formats.

Here’s an attempt to break this down into 2 simple classifications for you;

1. Ad as native within the content itself

• Publisher Native Ads – This is also known as advertorials, where the publisher provides information related to the brand message in the form of a journalistic article. Online publishers like the New York Times and Mashable see a high demand for this. For Buzzfeed, turning brands into publishers” is becoming their biggest source of revenue.

• Influencer-based Native Ads – The advertiser’s product or brand message is endorsed by an Influencer and embedded within the Influencer’s own medium, such as their blog or social media accounts. These ads yield more authentic content, and combat ad avoidance among users. It is no doubt then, that brands are relying on influencer marketing more than ever before.

2. Ad is distributed or discovered natively

• Paid Search Native Ad – These are the ads that appear on search results. The most common place you’ll find this, is of course in a Google search result listing.

• In-feed / In-stream Native Ads (native style display) – To help advertisers understand the variety of creative options available, the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) identified three main feed types as a common framework in this emerging and ever evolving space. They include Content Feeds, Social Feeds, and Product Feeds. It is worth taking a look at this In-Feed Ad Units Deep Dive they developed to supplement their IAB Native Advertising Playbook.

There’s more to native than meets the eye. In fact, it’s been proven by neuroscience that native ads are significantly more effective than display ads in driving purchase intent and conversions.

While display banners still dominate the programmatic world, the burgeoning connection between native and programmatic places native ads on the same scale. As a good case in point, Outbrain opened its previously closed marketplace via the OPA (Outbrain Programmatic Access) service which enables media teams to execute all display and native buys in one platform.

The promise of a better consumer experience that native offers will only increasingly inform and impact a brand’s larger marketing strategy.

It may take some time to fully grasp the concept of native advertising, but I do hope you find this simple guide useful in your practice.

Celine Veloso

Celine Veloso is the Business Development Director, Southeast Asia for Outbrain.