Hearst launched its first native advertising campaign on Harper's Bazaar with Nordstrom promoting the latest UGG Collection to foster strong conversations between the publisher, brands and consumers.
The campaign, Nordstrom/UGG Trend Collage, highlights a brand-specific photo grid around a topic. The native ad format resembles a Pinterest pinboard that editors curate or built with advertiser images and text.
Native ads, which appear on Bazaar under the Related Stories heading, have begun to attract more search engine marketers. Not only do searches help to discover the native advertisements on publisher sites, but they closely resembles a combination of Product Listing Ads, text ads and content supported by in-stream ads on Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and other sites.
The recent native ad for Nordstrom, running on Bazaar's fashion channel, opened to a product description page providing details on price, product availability and more. The ad also allows consumers to share the content and make a purchase from the page, explains Geoff Schiller, chief sales officer at Hearst Digital Media.
Initial tests on Hearst's native content module, although not tied to the Nordstrom campaign, produced a click-through rate between 1% and 1.5% compared to the industry average of .1% on traditional display ads, Schiller said. He said brands can tie the success of the native ad to key performance indicators like sharing or time spent, but the publisher will not guarantee purchases.
The biggest downside to native adverting resides in the media's inability to scale well and the frustration it creates for advertisers, according to industry insiders.
Content messaging in native ads perform on Hearst sites, Schiller said. The publisher found that 78% of its online readers want content or an advertising experience tailored to them. Up to 82% consider magazine Web sites their top destination for discovering the latest lifestyle content and information. Consumers most want to discover new products and get tips and content from Hearst brands. Up to 53% of consumers want to see personalized ad messages and creative pieces that don't express that the brand just wants to sell something.
Chris Schreiber, vice president of marketing at Sharethrough said the native ad platform company ran a study to analyze the attitude of mobile native ad buyers. Some 62% of survey participants intend to buy native mobile ads during the next year, and the majority during the next six months.
Specific to mobile, the Sharethrough study found that brands are buying native ads to strengthen upper-funnel activities like building awareness, 84.4%; branding, 67.5%; brand affinity, 53.2%; and purchase intent, 33.8%.