Users Respond Most To Relevancy, Site Credibility In Sponsored Content

When is native advertising a smart strategy for reaching online news readers?
For advertisers, it’s critical that their message be highly relevant to audiences. Publishers would be wise to steer clear of less respected brand partners.
That’s according to new research from Interactive Advertising Bureau and Edelman Berland, which found that relevancy (90%) is the top factor in sparking interest in in-feed sponsored content.
For native adverting to work, it’s critical that “consumers’ viewpoints are taken into account,” according to Sherrill Mane, senior vice president of research, analytics and measurement at the IAB.
“News publishers get greater impact when they work with familiar and trusted brands,” Mane stressed.
All told, brand familiarity and trust (81%), as well as subject matter expertise (82%), were all identified as key to driving news reading consumers’ interest in sponsored content.
Preconceived views about a publisher also need to be considered. In fact, research showed that a positive view of a news site’s credibility can significantly impact readers’ feelings about sponsored content -- driving a 33% spike in perceived credibility of an ad’s content.
Nearly two-thirds (60%) of online news visitors said that they are more open to digital advertising that focuses on a story rather than selling a product.

The research also revealed differences in each news user group’s perception of sponsored content.
For instance, when asked to look at real-world mockups of news pages, most business and entertainment news audiences (82% and 85%, respectively) felt that in-feed sponsored content was easy to single out, while the general news audience had more trouble, with less than half (41%) recognizing that the material was advertising.
Also of note, more than half of business and entertainment news users surveyed stated that sponsored content has the potential to increase the favorability of a brand advertiser and news site across a variety of dimensions.
A similar response is also possible with a general news audience, but, according to Mane, it seemed they have a higher bar for in-feed sponsored content in order to boost their approval of a marketer or publisher.
For their findings, the IAB and Edelman surveyed 5,000 people who visit U.S. news sites from their personal computers. The group was surveyed after they were exposed to mock in-feed ads that resemble what is now common on business, entertainment and general news sites.
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