Three Myths About Programmatic Native

There has been a lot of discussion about the merging of native advertising and programmatic buying since the launch of the Facebook Exchange (FBX) two years ago. With the creation of FBX, demand-side platforms (DSP)  built support for creative metadata, such as headlines, thumbnails and the other categories that make up native ads.  This was version 1 of programmatic native.

Seeing the success of FBX, Web publishers began hypothesizing about how they could bring the same native RTB capabilities to their sites and applications outside of Facebook. With the IAB closing in on the ratification of OpenRTB 2.3, which will add native capabilities to the standard programmatic process, we are closer to version 2 then ever before.

But before we get there, let's examine three current myths regarding the merger of native and real-time bidding.

Myth #1) Native RTB has arrived. While multiple platforms have experimented with custom solutions to merge RTB capabilities with automated native ad delivery, there is currently no standard that all publishers and platforms can utilize. FBX offers the ability to programmatically buy native ads at scale on Facebook, but this solution does not offer a standard that open Web publishers can adopt.



Standardization for Native RTB is coming very soon. The IAB is now in the final stages of completing the OpenRTB 2.3 spec, which for the first time will include support for native ads.  This draft is currently going through final IAB comment and approval process. Over the next three months, you can expect to see a feverish level of activity between native technology players to push through integrations with DSPs to truly bring Native RTB to the industry at scale.

Myth #2) RTB will reduce the quality of native ads. This is obviously a concern for any publisher considering opening up their coveted native placements to RTB demand sources, which for display have often resulted in lower quality. Because of their integration and visual similarity to organic content, the level of quality of ad creatives in native ad placements is another major focus for publishers, who don't want to denigrate their user experience with low-quality advertisements directly within their content feeds.

RTB is a technology for transacting, and it is just as capable of carrying high-quality brand advertising as low-quality DR advertising.  There is no reason that RTB needs to bring down the value of native ads. Brand advertisers are anxious to use the advantages of programmatic too. To preserve a high level of quality, publishers will need advanced controls to dictate what forms of creative and what types of buyers they accept for their native ad inventory. This may vary based on where the ads are in on their site or app. This will mean net new algorithms to identify things like brand content quality (guided by signals such as social sentiment, linguistic analysis and related content engagement profiles) and more granular controls.

Myth #3) Native RTB workflow is too complicated. The workflow will be almost identical in terms of setup time, though the assets that are being sent over will be different. The core difference between native programmatic buying and the current display model will be the delivery of metadata (headline, description, links, thumbnails) instead of rich-media files. Facebook was able to overcome this issue without any problem, so if anything this is really just an extension of what is now a highly common industry practice.

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