Born To Be Here: Programmatic Native

How do programmatic and native both play in the same sandbox? One is automation, the other customization, which seem polar opposites. Let’s step out of the sandbox to create a perfect world of yin-yang media.

Programmatic, from its very inception as a system for real-time bidding, has enabled the optimized automaton of media buys. Native advertising, on the other hand, formats ad content to match the style of a publisher’s adjacent editorial content. Together, the two create a nirvana - purchasing the best impressions for the campaign, then customizing the content to fit naturally in the consumer’s experience. And all within 200 milliseconds per view. Programmatic native increases the value of a brand’s media dollars.

But back to native advertising, since this is the more recent of the two types of advertising. There are many definitions for native advertising. Here is one of my favorites, from StackAdapt:  “Native Ad is a form of advertising that integrates high-quality content into the organic experience of a given platform through native ad units that conform to the design and feel of the site on which it displays. This preserves the immersive user experience while producing click through rates like that of editorial content.”



While it is descriptive, this definition (along with many others) loses sight of the main goal of integrated digital media. This is where Webster’s definition of native comes into play: “born in a particular place.” Brands pursuing native advertising must ensure that their ads are born to be there, not forced or invasive. Therefore, the birth of programmatic native comes with tons of pre-planning, predictive modeling and personalized content. That’s the native story: born to be there.

While the majority of native ads today are associated with sponsored posts that are purchased well in advance, the increase in both the supply of and demand for native ads has reached the volumes needed for programmatic success.

Programmatic native is predictive and personalized storytelling. The lean-in effect that traditional native ads (i.e. sponsorships) have created become even more powerful when the placement is optimized by a smart bidding system. The foundation of automated media via RTB/DSPs will help digest the enormous pool of big data in order to make native ads not only relevant to their surrounding, but to the individual. Many important factors, such as time, place and past purchases, are factored into the platform to make a better-informed decision. Consumers no longer feel they're being told "what to do,” but instead welcome the relevant lifestyle choice from a particular brand.

Measurement of native ads is where much improvement is needed. Publishers like Forbes are creating Brand Voice Dashboards, with publisher-like statistics, such as top posts, pageviews, total visitors, repeat visitors, etc. But engagement metrics are still struggling to prove correlations to conversions and/or sales. Programmatic platforms provide the missing metrics. The influence of branded ads, when done well, can have a strong positive impact on the bottom line. A dashboard with actionable insights will help fill the gap in KPIs.

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