C.A.S.T.ing The Net For Native Ads

Publishers have been turning to native ad units integrated alongside content in hopes of reviving the downward slide of standard display ads and finding new ways to draw in data.

Supporting the trend, Tel Aviv, Israel-based C.A.S.T. introduced native ad units that publishers can manage along with standard ad placements.  The company claims native ads complement a Web site's content, while the platform allows advertisers to manage their own campaigns, or work with the publisher's sales team, in a private marketplace specially built for these ads.

C.A.S.T., the platform that powers the company's network, launched about three years ago and uses CPM, CPC, and CPA pricing models. The technology on average generates at least 1.4% click-through rates, according to Omer Kaplan, the company's co-founder and CEO. Customers include Download.com, an Internet download directory Web site.

A promotional video on the company's site compares the six steps necessary to cook an egg with the five steps it takes to set up a campaign using its native ad unit. Through the C.A.S.T. Campaign Generation Wizard, the video steps through creating a campaign name, browser selection and choice of operating system. Next marketers must add images that support the creative, and choose the countries to target. At the end of this process, the egg continues to cook.

There are two schools of thought on the effectiveness of native ads like Facebook Sponsored Stories. Earlier this year, Nielsen and Facebook released research showing that on average social ads, considered native, generate a 55% greater lift in ad recall than non-social ads, though individual cases may vary.

A recent study suggests something different. Some 45% of survey participants in a MediaBrix/ Harris Interactive online survey found Twitter-promoted tweets misleading, 57% found Facebook-sponsored stories misleading, and 86% found sponsored video ads that appear to act like content misleading. The study conducted in October, surveyed 2,516 adults in the U.S.

Brand perception was also at stake. Some 62% said Twitter-promoted tweets negatively impacted or had no impact on their perception of the brand being advertised. About 72% said Facebook-sponsored stories negatively impacted or had no impact on their perception of the brand being advertised. And 85% said sponsored video ads that appear to be content negatively impacted or had no impact on their perception of the brand being advertised.

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