For example, if a user recently visited a retailer’s site, added an item to the shopping cart, and did not convert, the audience targeting for an in-market, highly recent
shopper would far outweigh any considerations of contextual relevance. Conversely, a branding campaign for a large auto manufacturer may focus more on contextual relevance, targeting sites like
Motor Trend, Car and Driver, etc., and only considering audience to the extent that per-user impression targets are met.
While native advertising is quickly becoming available through programmatic channels, media planners need to consider the inherent distinctions between native and display when formulating the targeting parameters for their campaigns. Editorial-driven native advertising -- where the publisher hosts a sponsored article on behalf of an advertiser -- presents important considerations. Here the alignment between brand and editorial voice is paramount.
Users will only consume native ads when they are reading a feed or an article -- meaning only when their mindset is geared toward consuming relevant content. If a consumer finds a sponsored post about ovens on Car and Driver, it may fundamentally alter his perception of the site, no matter how interested in ovens -- or ready to actually buy an oven -- that reader may be. Targeting primarily on audience with off-topic, irrelevant in-feed advertising may be a jarring experience and actually reduce the efficacy of the messaging, as well as undermine a publisher's editorial focus.
Non-editorial native advertising, where the content clicks through to the brand’s site, has less risk of editorial dilution than hosted content, but consumers are still not accustomed to seeing completely irrelevant content in their feeds. It is imperative to consider consumer expectations, which have been set such that while there is no requirement for banner ads to match the nature of a site’s editorial content, everything else on the site adheres to a higher standard.
The implication for brands is that for native advertising, contextual targeting is significantly more important than audience targeting -- an ironic swing back to the traditional pre-digital notion that context is king. Furthermore, this means that a single piece of content is not sufficient for broad targeting. While a single banner ad can be targeted across the Web to effectively reach a cross-section of users, brands must create a variety of content-targeted messages based on their objectives, and the user-interest overlap of the demographics they are seeking to target. Only when a brand has produced contextual content -- if it’s bought programmatically -- should it optimize by selecting users to target with their relevant content.