Advertising Publishing

Native Ads: Still a powerful format for publishers?

Oath, the digital tech firm owned by Verizon, has revealed findings from a recent research project that explored consumer behavior with respect to native advertising.

The research, conducted in partnership with Sparkler, surveyed over 6,000 consumers from across UK, French, and Germany. It looked into how consumers interacted with native ads on mobile and desktop, in both premium and non-premium publisher environments.

Key findings from the research:

  • Native vs traditional: 40% of 18-24-year-olds are using ad blockers in the UK as they find traditional ads disruptive. But they are open to immersive, relevant, native content experiences, especially on mobile.

  • Impact on brand affinity: Native formats trigger a greater positive subconscious reaction in UK consumers, resulting in a 10% increase in positive brand associations. 15% are more likely to consider purchasing from these brands compared to traditional display.

    The positive subconscious reaction is greatest on mobile with a 28% increase over traditional display ads. Native blends well on mobile increasing overall mobile page engagement by 21%.

  • Placement: In-feed native ads deliver greater viewing and brand impact compared to when they are placed at the bottom of pages. They fetch over double the average time spent in view, +11% higher brand advocacy score and +35% positive subconscious association.

The environment that native ads sit within can also affect impact. Ads placed in premium website environments are 23% more likely to deliver brand impact across mobile and desktop. They also have a 30% higher brand purchase intent score than a non-premium environment.

Speaking on the research, Anna Watkins, Managing Director at Oath UK said, “Native ads have continued to present themselves as a strong format in the industry worldwide. Newer formats that deliver impactful and engaging experiences in digital environments are as powerful a proposition for brand-building as they are for conversion. It is also a perfect environment for interactive experiences like AR.”

Trends in magazine publishing and news media

Oath’s findings are encouraging for magazine and news media publishers who in separate surveys conducted by the Native Advertising Institute with FIPP and WAN-IFRA expressed overall positive expectations from native ads in the coming years.

The FIPP survey of 150 magazine executives from 41 countries found that native advertising continues to contribute to increasing portions of ad revenue for publishers. On average, native made up 31% of overall advertising revenue for magazine publishers in 2017 compared to 21% in 2016. 69% of the executives surveyed expect increased revenue from native this year compared to the last, and in three years, they estimate native to drive 46% of their annual advertising revenue.

Native advertising is still a fairly new discipline for many publishers, yet it is growing in financial importance. It might not be the Holy Grail that will solve every problem in the industry, but this year’s study shows that it is becoming an integrated part of their business model.

Jesper Laursen, Founder of the Native Advertising Institute

Many publishers have already made native advertising a fully integrated part of their business model. While smaller and niche publishers are still hesitant, most major publishers are in. This is evident in both their budgets and organizational structures. It also reflects in their attitude towards native with 80% being positive and only 5% feeling otherwise. 51% of those surveyed even called it ‘very important’ compared to 46% last year.

The WAN-IFRA survey of 148 news media executives from 53 countries, revealed that native advertising contributed to 20% of publishers’ overall advertising revenues last year. 87% of the publishers surveyed are positive towards native advertising compared to 82% last year. Only 1% are negative compared to 2% last year.

Over 50% of the respondents feel that native advertising is very important to their company and are currently offering it. 44% say it’s likely or very likely that they’ll begin to offer it. By 2021, publishers from news media expect 36% of their overall ad revenue to come from some form of native advertising.

Publishers continue to hone their strategies around native advertising as it increasingly plays a significant role in their overall ad strategies. With native advertising, advertisement becomes less disruptive and more relevant to the consumer experience. The appetite for native advertising grows as experiential becomes increasingly important to every business model, especially on mobile.

Vincent Peyrègne, CEO, World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)

Although native advertising continues to grow in importance for news media, adaptation is slower compared to magazine publishers. Some news publishers are certainly hesitant due to internal editorial concerns amidst the erosion of the divide between ‘church & state’. However, as native continues to grow in financial importance it will be intriguing to see how both industries take it forward.


Download WNIP’s new Media Moments 2018 report, which dives deeper into this year’s developments in publishing, and looks at what opportunities 2019 could usher in. The report is free and can be downloaded here.

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