Advertising Digital Publishing
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87% publishers positive about native advertising: WAN-IFRA report

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Jesper Laursen, CEO of the Native Advertising Institute, said during a recent WAN-IFRA Webinar that publishers are increasingly turning to native as an integral source of revenues. Laursen commented, “Once you get it right, the opportunity is massive.”

He shared insights from a WAN-IFRA and NAI survey and research report, “Native Advertising Trends 2018,” published in December 2018. The survey which included responses of 148 news media executives from 53 countries revealed that 56% of the executives were already using native—an increase from 51% last year.

Moreover, 44% of the respondents stated that they were likely or very likely to start offering it. The research also found that participants’ native ad revenues grew from 11% of their total ad revenues in 2015 to 19.7%% in 2017. It is expected to grow to 36% by 2021.

The survey recorded mostly positive expectations from publishers with only 1% being negative about native compared to 2% last year.

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 of WAN-IFRA

“Impactful and engaging experiences in digital environments”

Another 2018 survey of over 6,000 consumers across the UK, French, and Germany by Oath and Sparkler found that 40% of 18-24-year-olds were using ad blockers in the UK. They did so because they found traditional ads disruptive. However. they said they were open to immersive, relevant, native content experiences.

The survey also found that native formats lead to a 10% increase in positive brand associations. And that 15% of the respondents were more likely to consider purchasing from these brands compared to traditional display.

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.

Anna Watkins, Managing Director at Oath UK

Playing by the rules

There are certain areas of concern though that publishers may need to address to ensure success in native advertising. A frequent issue put forward is that native advertising can be deceptive to viewers. Since it matches the form, feel, function and quality of the content in the environment in which it is placed, readers may not realize that it’s an advertisement. If readers feel deceived it may affect the credibility of publishers.

According to Laursen, “As long as publishers “play by the rules” and are clear about labeling, NAI hasn’t seen any examples of anyone whose reputation has been hurt by using it.”

However, the WAN-IFRA survey found that 9% of publishers did not label native ads. It’s an improvement over the previous year’s 11%, but was still a matter of grave concern for the authors of the report. Laursen added, if publishers “start messing with their credibility and messing with the confidence of the audience, then they will punish you: No doubt about it.”  

Publishers who intend to clearly label native ads for their audience can consult The Federal Trade Commission’s Native Advertising Guide. It contains instructions on how and when to use certain terminology and obvious labels in ads to ensure that consumers are aware.

In a similar vein, the idea behind native ads is to engage potential customers by offering value through content. But, if a brand uses an enticing headline and image to attract viewers and then takes them to a product page, or unrelated content—it risks losing their interest, as well as trust.

What resonates with audiences

Another problem pointed out by Yaniv Makover, Co-founder and CEO of Keewee, a content marketing company, is that “Native advertising still frequently tends to come across as tone deaf to readers. Too often the material lacks cohesion with the rest of the publisher’s content, leaving the audience with a bad taste in its mouth. Consider a serious news outlet posting celebrity puff pieces for a brand shilling cosmetic creams. That disconnect shouldn’t exist in native advertising.”

Yaniv told NAI, “In its best form, native advertising provides value to the reader and feels natural among its neighboring content. For the best shot at achieving this, brands might consider working with publishers’ in-house content studios, since they should have the deepest understanding of what resonates with their audiences.”

Richard Iwanik-Marques, Vice President of Marketing, LinkedIn suggests, “If you’re creating a campaign for native, put user experience at the forefront of your decision making. If the messaging doesn’t accomplish a true story-telling narrative for the people engaging with your content, it is highly unlikely you will accomplish the goals of your campaigns.”

“This is a marathon”

While Laursen is highly positive about the revenue potential of native advertising, he recommends approaching it with a long-term strategy. “This is a marathon,” he says, “it takes time to train your salespeople, it takes time to understand what kind of native advertising your audience reacts to, how do you sell this? It’s a new discipline for many publishers and it takes time to get it right, so you need to be persistent.

Probably one of the biggest opportunities the publishing industry has seen for decades.

Jesper Laursen, CEO of the Native Advertising Institute

The format requires a steady investment of time and effort. Crafting a native ad or campaign is a costly, multi-step process that requires a lot of collaboration and several rounds of review.

According to Ben Young, CEO of Nudge, a content data and insights company, “The crucial point where marketers go wrong is they lose sight of the idea through the value chain and think native is the idea. Native is the pipe that delivers the idea.”

In his piece for Adweek, Young wrote, “Deep empathy for the end user or consumer of the content is essential. When marketers respect the audience’s attention and spend the time to create something addictive and delivered in a contextually relevant way, it works.”

Click here to download WAN-IFRA’s Native Advertising Trends 2018

Download WNIP’s comprehensive report—50 Ways to Make Media Pay—an essential read for publishers looking at the multiple revenue opportunities available, whether it’s to reach new audiences or double down on existing super-users. The report is free and can be downloaded here.