Is native advertising about to go the way of pop-up ads?
When the concept of native advertising first gained widespread attention in 2012, it was expected to lift publishers’ fortunes and rescue digital advertising from the perpetual downward slide of display ad rates.
Fast-forward three years, and native has largely delivered on that promise. Publishers including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Time Inc. have created or expanded departments to help advertisers develop their branded content. According to an eMarketer report, spending on native is expected to reach US$8.8 billion by 2018, up from $4.3 billion this year.
As more publishers open up in-feed native positions to marketers, they’re discovering new ways to fully monetise these placements. Many see the move to in-feed as offering more viewability and new flexibility, both of which look great on the surface. Native feels like a fresh opportunity, but at the rate things are going, it runs the risk of reviving all of the familiar challenges that have made the display ad business such a challenging proposition.
When executed well, with time and care put into ensuring the content is in the right tone and has the right message, native formats blend into vertical streams in a manner that’s much less disruptive to users (while still marked as “sponsored” so as not to be deceptive). Meanwhile, publishers get ad inventory that users will actually look at and engage with, instead of reflexively ignoring, as many of us have trained ourselves to do with right-rail display ads.