In September 2015, Apple announced that iOS 9 will feature content blocking, which allows users to block ads and give them more control over their experience with ads. Apple’s decision to allow content blocking on iOS 9 acknowledges a significant ongoing shift in how advertisers connect with consumers online, especially in the mobile marketing space.
Consumers now have the power to block traditional forms of online advertising—and sources of much-needed revenue—including pop-up and banner ads. Thus, as these traditional sources of advertising revenue dry up, native advertising is emerging as a powerful way for brands to connect with consumers.
In a nutshell, native advertising closely resembles or appears to be highly relevant to the platform on which it appears. It can come in a variety of forms such as online advertorials (which look like editorial content but are required to be marked as sponsored content), online videos, sponsored social media posts, and in-feed ads.
Native Advertising's Time Has Come
Native advertising is more effective in drawing consumers’ attention than intrusive display ads anyway. A recent study by IPG Media Lab and Sharethrough found that consumers look at native ads 53 percent more often than they look at traditional display ads. And the use of native advertising will continue to grow. Business Insider predicted that spending on native ads would reach $7.9 billion in 2015 and grow to $21 billion in 2018, rising from just $4.7 billion in 2013.
As content blocking has driven a stake through the heart of banner ads, native advertising is poised to take its place.
Native Advertising is Not Content Marketing
Most mobile users will typically encounter native ads on Facebook and other social media platforms as in-feed or in-stream ad formats. Native advertising will also appear in mobile apps and games. It can even be embedded directly within the actual editorial content of a page.
To be effective, a native ad will do the following:
- Provide a good user experience
- Increase sales for publishers
- Help advertisers hit their KPIs
Implicit in all of this is an emphasis on performance.
5 Native Advertising Tips for Mobile Marketers
Tip 1: Pay Attention to Every Aspect of Your Ad
Native advertising should match the unique user experience. Take into consideration everything from the app that you are using to the headline and language of the ad itself.
Native ads are not supposed to look or feel like ads, but should be subtle in tone and should create value for both your business and your users. This can mean providing useful information about your product that directly addresses your consumers’ needs.
Tip 2: Follow a Tried and True Formula
Native ads are content-rich and take careful thought to plan and produce. The editorial process can eat into the efficiency of a performance marketing team.
In order to create a scalable process, create a workable template you can use for your native ads instead of starting over with a new approach each time. That way you can focus on examining performance and finding out what works.
Tip 3: Keep Testing
Don’t expect to get results from one video or one post. Consumers will need to see your native ads multiple times before they start to pay attention. If your first attempt at native advertising doesn't achieve the desired results of your campaign, don't give up.
And, as you keep launching campaigns, be sure to keep testing, keep learning, and keep optimizing your campaigns by listening to your data.
Tip 4: Take Advantage of Programmatic Advertising to Improve ROI
You or your in-house sales team simply can’t identify all of the digital advertising opportunities that exist right now. So, be sure to take advantage of access to real-time inventory at scale—at a price you can pay—offered by programmatic advertising platforms.
When used effectively, new technologies give advertisers the ability to tap into programmatic demand for native advertising, which in turn will allow you to scale your ad buying and put relevant ads directly in front of your consumers using real-time data.
Tip 5: Disclose Your Native Ads
The FTC announced in June 2015 that publishers will be held responsible for misleading native ads. Until recently the FTC has not held publishers, including TV networks, radio stations, websites, or apps responsible for deceptive ads on their properties—these publishers were considered to be just a distribution channel.
But when publishers are creating content such as native ads, the FTC and other regulatory bodies consider the publishers to be more involved in the process and that creates a potential liability.
There are no official labeling guidelines for native advertising as of yet from the FTC. For example, Google uses the word “ads” while Facebook uses “sponsored post” to mark their native advertising content. But for now, keep in mind that you should always clearly label your native ads as such.
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