Five Digital Media Lessons From The Native Advertising Summit

By Alexandra Morgan in Digital Marketing on July 18th, 2013


When speakers from brands like AT&T, Coca-Cola and GAP met up with publishers like Pandora, Facebook, Forbes and Twitter at last month’s Native Advertising Summit in Atlanta, the discussion offered many perspectives on one of the hottest topics in display marketing.

But first, what is native advertising? According to Sharethrough, the event’s sponsor, native advertising is “a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.” For example, an ad that appears in your Facebook feed fits this definition perfectly because it matches the functionality, form and content flow of the page it is being served on. So what did we learn at the summit? Here are our top five takeaways from the day.

Lesson 1: Love the Feed Quick, name a platform that doesn’t include a newsfeed. Pretty tough, right? That’s because a newsfeed’s ability to give us a “table of contents” format makes it the optimal user experience, and any ad that fits seamlessly within this information is much less intrusive to the viewer. “We as humans have learned to love the concept of a feed,” says Sharethrough founder Dan Greenberg. “And that’s not going to change.”

Lesson 2: Mobile Marketing is Going Native As mobile grows, so will native ads. Take Facebook and Twitter. Both are now exclusively native when it comes to advertising on phones and tablets. And according to Dave Rollo from BLiNQ Media, nearly 80% of advertisers say they are satisfied with Facebook’s Sponsored Stories due to the increased newsfeed interaction with rich media. Even Google is attempting to combat the disruptive nature of traditional mobile banner ads by introducing the new double-click feature to reduce accidental fat-fingering (see image below), all of which just gives brands more incentive to go native. NativeAd2 Lesson 3: Brands Are Now Content Creators With native advertising, publishers now offer brands the ability to be a part of the stories without seeming too much like an ad. Some publishers like BuzzFeed, an aggregator combining viral content with its own editorial process, will even work with select brands to keep ads relevant and sharable, which in turn helps the message have some staying power. There is a delicate balance, though, in order to maintain publisher credibility. BuzzFeed addresses this by keeping its editorial team entirely separate and independent from the creative team that helps advertisers with content. Take this example of an ad from Visit Florida created specifically for the BuzzFeed audience—it fits seamlessly into the format, functionality and content of the homepage. Even though it’s sponsored, the content otherwise matches the normal BuzzFeed posts, and it offers the same value to readers—albeit with a clear promotional purpose. NativeAdVisitFL Lesson 4: Native Advertising Can Scale Native ads’ overall CTRs tend to be much higher compared to traditional display, pre-rolls and interstitials. In fact, the rich media nature of native ads has been shown to increase interactions by 1000%, boost engagement rates by a factor of six, and garner average CTRs of 0.14%. Brands often see lifts in favorability, purchase intent and social engagement as well, and analyzing this data allows them to use native campaigns as KPIs. Further, the ability for native ad platforms to customize each individual’s site without the advertiser paying for separate creative is another cost effective perk. Lesson 5: Native Advertising is Perfect for Branding While BKV has an unwavering passion for direct response marketing, native advertising is currently more effective as a branding play. Some platforms such as Amazon and eBay are developing options for direct response, but for now think of native as more of a long term campaign than an immediate sell. To sum it all up, Coca-Cola’s Global Group Director of Digital Strategy & Content, Neil Bedwell, put it best: “What we do every day is try to create content that consumers want to see (or) view as much as non-branded content.” So are native ads here to stay? While the landscape is still changing as social platforms and publishers figure out how to monetize their offerings, the summit has us convinced: native is the future of advertising. Want to learn more? Contact us today!