Programmatic Native: A Brighter Side
It is vastly reported that native advertising formats are gaining more and more interest from both buyers and sellers in 2016. Data from BI Intelligence finds that around $7.9 billion were spent on native advertising in 2015 and predicts that this number will grow to $21 billion in 2018. The growing popularity of these formats is due to multiple factors. With the current trend in web design revolving around long and scrollable content feeds instead of the more traditional web page layouts, there are more and more opportunities for publishers to embrace native advertising and also reassure advertisers. According to AdExchanger, “not only do feeds allow for responsive ads across channels, a necessity for native to scale, they also act as an entry to smaller publishers, who can build out native advertising opportunities without the content creation or product investments.”
Benefits for the Advertiser
Native advertising is also very enticing to advertisers because, for once, they know exactly where their ad is going to appear. Even if there is more and more transparency with display advertising, with the advertisers knowing on which websites their ads were delivered, they still don’t have a way to know if their ad was shown at the top of the home page of the publisher’s website or at the bottom of the third search results page. With native advertising, they know for sure that their ad will be in one of the native ad slots that sits amongst the website’s content. By being directly in the content feed, these ads also benefit from far greater visibility than standard IAB ad formats, therefore generating much greater engagement for the advertiser.
Some people raise concerns in exposing premium in-feed units to real-time markets by saying it poses liabilities for publishers, especially since they would sacrifice space from their content. While native advertisements, where an advertiser approaches a publisher directly to promote its products or services on its website, have existed for a while now, there is very few programmatic native advertising options available on the market today. Lots of AdTech companies, District M being one of them, are interested in launching their very own solutions.
Benefits for the Publisher
Let us try to reassure publishers who are reluctant to adopt programmatic native ads.
First and foremost, publishers are mostly interested in 3 things: quality, look and pricing. We will discuss each of these crucial elements and the reason why native ads are a great approach to each of them. First, the best way to guarantee quality for native ads that will be programmatically delivered on a publisher’s website is to give the publisher the freedom to configure their settings. Therefore, by enabling publishers to choose the type of ads, advertisers and ad categories they want, they would already feel more secure in knowing that only premium advertisements will run on their sites. Also, by guaranteeing them that the native ad slot won’t be visible when there is no demand, the publisher would feel reassured knowing there won’t be blank space left in the middle of their content. On the other hand, native ads are also meant to blend with the publisher’s content, as creatives are consistent and more in-line with the overall look and feel of the publisher’s website, leading to a seamless experience for the end user. We believe that publishers must be able to change their native ad template whenever they wish so that it always corresponds to their website’s design. By giving them the tools and the flexibility to do so they will be much more serene in integrating this type of advertisement. Finally, concerning pricing, by being integrated in the website’s content and by replicating its look and feel, native ads have a lot more visibility and would generate greater engagement than standard display units. Knowing that advertisers would be willing to pay more for a guaranteed premium position on a website, and given that native ads would have higher CPMs, therefore generating more revenue for publishers, native ads lead to a win-win situation.
Expert advice on integrating programmatic native ads
Even after having addressed the main advantages of native ads for publishers, some might still express skepticism. It is important for publishers to know that integrating programmatic native ads to their website, just like any other ad format, is not an all-in or nothing type of deal. The key is to find the good ratio, and this could be obtained through lots of A/B testing by the publisher in order to figure out what works best for them, as well as monitor users’ reactions through analytics. For instance, some publishers might be scared to alienate users by integrating a catfish ad unit on their website, because all they have in mind is the intrusive banner that pops at the bottom of their desktop’s screen. An idea would be to deliver this ad format only to users visiting their website from a specific device, and test the results. For example, if the unit has more success with mobile users, the publisher could then try to test specific geographic areas and so forth. By testing different frequency caps, devices or users located in specific low traffic areas, the publisher could quickly and efficiently figure out what suits its needs and what works best for the end users.
Honesty is key to keep your users happy
One thing is extremely important to avoid, and that is to disrespect users when it comes to this type of advertising. With native programmatic ads, we are dealing with ads that mimic a given website’s content, it is therefore really easy to trick users into thinking that they are about to read a really great piece of content only to be redirected to a car dealer’s website for example, which can be quite annoying for users. Native ads are, as their name says, ads by nature. Therefore, they must be clearly identified as such, as well as clearly state the advertiser behind them in order not to confuse or frustrate the end user. This proves respect towards the website’s audience and builds trust and reliability.