Five Things That Must Happen To Make Native Mainstream

Nobody questions that native advertising has grown tremendously over the last year. But the fact that we’re still treating native as a special type of advertising means it’s still considered by many to be something outside of the mainstream.

Indeed, it may still be early days for the native industry, with many of the leading technology players being startups and most publishers being in the industry for less than a year. But with such promising results – for advertisers, publishers and consumers alike – it’s only a matter of time until native becomes mainstream. For this to occur, we’ll need to see the following five things happen:

1. Native breaks out of its media-buying box. Native can’t be considered a one-off strategy or an experiment. There are a myriad of ways to use it to achieve different goals, ranging from content marketing to in-feed ads. Each permutation almost always outperforms its display advertising counterparts, while often delivering on the same KPIs. So buyers and planners need to be educated on which native strategy is appropriate for what type of campaign, to help determine the most effective approach. Once these folks learn how to best use native, and the results have born out, this format will cease being a separate line item for experimentation, and simply become an effective strategy that should be considered for every campaign.

2. Buying native must be automated and simple. Marketers must be able to leverage their existing media buying infrastructure to effectively scale their native presence. This means using their audience segments, inventory optimization, and attribution algorithms – which are often only available through a brand’s existing media buying platform. So native inventory must be biddable through RTB in an existing console, with an easy-to-construct native creative tool – just like display.

3. The industry must agree on universal labeling and disclosure. Native is a new market, and the participants must hold themselves to the highest standards. This means being upfront about the content being advertising. Clearly delineate sponsored content, and do not rely on vagueness or deception. The lowest common denominator in banner advertising has plagued the growth of programmatic. Native is still new and untarnished. Any baggage or reason for pause will significantly impair the native industry as a whole.

4. Publishers prefer native to interruptive experiences. The declining efficacy of banner ads leaves publishers with two choices: big, flashy, interruptive ads like interstitials, popups, expandables, etc., or integrated native ads. Publishers may be wooed by the high CPMs of interruptive ads, but over the medium and long run, such ads will drive away users in droves. As publishers begin to realize the relative merits of integrated, native advertising, the supply will grow exponentially and the native ecosystem will flourish.

5. Native must stop being a buzzword. Sure, it’s great that we’re all talking native.  But for native to be taken seriously and be another digital strategy, we must stop the hype and talk about the results and execution, not the promises.  This column should not be treated as the hot topic of the month, but another resource for learning about a serious and effective digital marketing strategy.

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