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Mobile Native: From Today’s Challenges To Tomorrow’s Possibilities

Posted on April 06, 2015
By Ramya Rajan

This article by InMobi was first seen on Emerging Spaces, the content hub of the Starcom Mediavest Group.

“Nobody reads advertising. People read what they want to read and sometimes, it is an ad” - Howard Luck Gossage, the ‘Advertising Socrates of San Francisco’, 1969.

This path-breaking line of thought surfaced as ‘native advertising’ last year, and evolved from an ad world catchphrase to establishing itself in every marketer’s agenda. Innovative native platforms now give publishers a seamless way to merge advertising with content, and several pieces of research have corroborated publishers’ confidence by detailing the effectiveness of native advertising. In short, the odds of native advertising at scale arriving soon look very good. However, there are many challenges that need to be overcome if native advertising on mobile is to deliver on its promise.

Shared Definition of Native on Mobile

A burning issue is the need for a clear shared definition of native advertising on mobile. Is native on mobile an ad unit that mimics the form and function of an app or the mobile web? Is it custom content that suits editorial content? Possibly, user-generated content? Should mobile native be based on content, context, or both?

InMobi research on the marketer perceptions of mobile native advertising in 2015 revealed what we had suspected all along - advertisers, along with publishers and ad platforms, are divided on the definition of mobile native.

While 36% of brand marketers surveyed use native, a disturbingly large segment, 62%, lack clarity on how to implement native advertising in real-world mobile campaigns despite knowing the term and understanding the concept.

Given this context, native on mobile is best viewed as an evolving format. This format is essentially brand messaging that fully becomes part of the user context. While this is currently achieved by matching the form and function of the user experience, the native of tomorrow is set to go beyond and completely merge with editorial content. During this process, brand advertisers will have to grapple with several tradeoffs. Creating long-form editorial content for publishers will allow native on mobile to truly resemble useful content for users, but will also involve significant effort and the presence of an advertorial team.

Delivering Native Ads at Scale

The lack of scale is often viewed as a limiting factor for mobile native advertising. Native needs to cater to several publisher app layouts and maintain uniform implementation. Additionally, it must keep up with the furiously rapid pace of innovation that wants to incorporate video and rich media. Brand marketers also need to find a balance between the creative control that they would like to exhibit, and the publisher’s right to control the ad’s look and feel.

Both ad technology and ad networks will have to provide high-scale implementation, along with high liquidity of creative assets, to enable a single set that can scale across publishers, devices, and manufacturers. Advertisers will need options for a wide variety of layouts on every app type, along with platforms that allow publishers to retain creative control of the ad unit, while allowing advertisers to easily customize creative elements.

For true scale, native can be enabled via programmatic buying to present more avenues for brands to reach publishers. Several technology platforms, like the InMobi Native Ads platform enabled on InMobi Exchange, address concerns about scale by implementing all of these measures.

Tomorrow’s Possibilities with Native on Mobile

Native ads are all about being non-intrusive and allowing users to naturally ‘discover’ information. In addition, native on mobile is rapidly transforming into a future-proof tool for mobile marketing. Publishers will eventually make native on mobile their primary axis for monetization, while adding elements of video and rich media to fully imbibe and enhance the fundamental features of an app’s experience.

Just as users share content on social media today, they will be able to share ads, or listen to audio ads on music apps in the near future. The future of native on mobile tomorrow could also look just like long-form sponsored content that users would enjoy reading. Users will enjoy location-based native ads that show information about a local store’s offers while they browse a location app. Mobile native might attain the shape of spot messaging, such as an ad on a snapchat-like environment that vanishes once seen. On a frigidly cold day, weather-based ‘smart’ native ads will nudge users to a hot drink at nearby coffee shop. Native on mobile can even be reimagined as an audio ad within a music app’s playlist, potentially in the same music category.

In all these ways, native on mobile can truly imbibe not just the form and function of the app, but also seamlessly reflect the same user experience. The future of native on mobile will not only preserve user experience on mobile, but also enhance it with useful contextual information that delights users.

Native on mobile has already been graciously welcomed by brand marketers and clearly holds exciting possibilities for the future. By making important tradeoffs, brands can effectively whiz past the few challenges that this innovative format brings, to delight consumers, drive engagement, and change the way advertising is perceived.

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