70% of marketers still don't know what it is, but according to projections, native advertising will account for nearly $3 billion in spend by the end of this year. This is a powerful statistic, and one that we explored in depth at the IAB’s Advertising Technology Marketplace in New York. Titled 'What’s Native Got to do With It?', the town hall discussion was moderated by Kaylie Smith, Rubicon Project’s Head of Seller Cloud, and the IAB’s Director of Industry Initiatives, Carl Kalapesi.
It was great to experience the excitement around native advertising with the buyers and sellers in the room who participated. It was clear that both see the value in these emerging ad units. One of the key themes that was explored during the discussion was the question around the exact definition of native ads. Is it custom content, relevant ads, advertorials, in-feed, units that have the look and feel of an app, etc.? While the IAB published a playbook to provide greater clarity on this subject, I’m excited that InMobi and Rubicon Project are working with the IAB and the OpenRTB Forum to develop standardization in order to drive native adoption.
Kaylie echoed the sentiment that was on everybody’s mind ‘How does native scale in the programmatic world?’. InMobi has been obsessing about this for quite some time now and we believe we have taken the right steps to tackle this challenge. We launched our native self-serve platform to scale publisher onboarding. Separately, we announced the InMobi Exchange that leverages the Rubicon Project’s technology stack providing access to hundreds of buyers that activate tens of thousands of advertisers globally. In addition, we have proposed new RTB specifications that would support a broad range of custom native mobile advertising experiences that work in a similar way to how RTB supports VAST for video.
‘Can every publisher support native ads, or do certain types of content lend themselves better to native experiences?’ The best examples here come from news, entertainment, social, and weather apps that have begun integrating the InMobi Native Ads platform. And although there’s not a current standardization for native, there are some general themes that have been emerging, including messenger, chat list, tiles, photo album, in-feed, and similar. In order to have native scale programmatically we will need to have increased standardization that may come from the current native ad format themes.
A question at the forefront of every brand or agency is ‘What is the enhanced value that native advertising provides advertisers and brands?’. And in this audience, both the agency and publisher side of the room were already sold on the value of native advertising. Incidentally, InMobi is seeing a 5x increase in advertiser conversions, and a 6x increase in publisher monetization on average. Because the advertising experiences are highly customized, the actual conversion rates and CPMs do vary widely, but overall, the seamless consumer experiences are producing much higher value.
The issue remaining to be solved is providing measurement and reporting that captures the impact that native ads have on branding. Agencies and publishers are looking to measure native ads beyond conversions, to extract the value they bring to a branding campaign.
There’s no doubt that native is a valuable and engaging unit that will enable leaders in the mobile space to move beyond traditional banners. Definitions, ad sizes, and ad positioning for native currently vary. However, through working closely with the IAB, we can come to create some general guidelines that will allow publishers and advertisers to scale native ad placements programmatically.