Traditionally, intelligent digital was brought into media buys in order to find content that was relevant to a brand or a specific audience segment. However, that got lost to some extent in the audience buying rage where content became less important and the audience became critical. “It becomes apparent that content is still truly a really important piece of the overall process,” argues Kasper. “There has been a push to keep the content side and the contextual piece of it, as much a part of the media buy as the audience part of it.”
These changes are making the media buyer more instrumental in content. “Traditionally content has been handled by a publisher or by a creative agency, but now there's a big trend towards content being controlled or created by a media buyer, which is a big change because it used to be that a media buyer would have no real say in what the content was…” explains Kasper.
This is important because the landscape is shifting. However there are some limitations because content is difficult to scale. For every dollar that a media buyer spends, more work is required for a content buy with its custom units than for standard ad units. “With native, there's a limitation,” says Kasper. “The big winners in native are going to be the publishers that have a ton of scale already – Yahoo, or maybe Microsoft or AOL or The New York Times, something like that where they've got tons and tons of scale already and they are able to scale or customize the ad experience.”
One of the many reasons programmatic buying is so powerful in the marketplace right now is because of the long tail, as media buyers are now able to access more sites than they have been able to in the past. “That becomes problematic when you're talking about native advertising because there's a limitation,” he continues. “If I'm going to run ten impressions on a site that I've never heard of before, it's probably not going to be able to develop customized creative for it. There's got to be standardization in native advertising to scale outside the walls of the really big publishers. I know it's a bit of a contradiction, but there needs to be something there so it's easier to buy.”
Native will continue to grow and as it does, expect everyone to have more of their own customized units. “You'll start to see native that takes more of a cue from the context of the site and specifically the context of the user as well,” states Kasper. “It will start to become more intelligent based on user data, whereas right now native and audience targeting haven't quite merged together. You're going to start seeing native that becomes relative to the user.”
This trend will be supported as media buying overall and specifically programmatic companies like AOL and Yahoo are beginning to restrict the data in their inventory, keeping their highest quality data for themselves and only selling it directly. “We’re going to start to see native advertising take cues and data signals from the publishers and start to customize messaging to an individual user,” Kasper concludes.