Why Native Advertising Is A No-Brainer For Publishers And Marketers

Native advertising is heating up in digital media these days, and there are plenty of reasons why publishers should get excited. To start, a recent studyfrom BI Intelligence forecasts native ad spend to hit $7.9 billion this year (a 69% increase from 2013) and reach $21 billion by 2018. Publishers, that’s significant revenue opportunity up for grabs.

But aside from the clear market opportunity that publishers can gain from offering native advertising solutions, there are a few other reasons why native should be a top priority for publishers: not just deciding to do it, but also setting up the right processes, infrastructure, and policies to ensure native helps further accelerate their business.

Native allows publishers to get more creative with content. While traditional banner ads have historically served as the lifeblood for digital publishers, native has risen to celebrity status, offering publishers a fresh way for brands to connect with their target audiences with more engaging, creative content. Major publishers players are taking big advantage of this opportunity; the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and others are all tapping into their deep bench of storytellers to build content studio teams (including videographers) to create branded content. As a result, publishers are further extending their brand as providers of quality content, alongside award-winning editorial content.



Native provides publishers more meaningful measurement insights and better results. The native format — based on content rather than graphics and text captions —opens up a whole host of engagement and attention metrics that give publishers and their clients deeper insights into their consumers. For example, last year, Upworthy announced it would embrace “time-spent” as a better metric of reader engagement than traditional stats. And most recently, premium publishers — Conde Nast, Forbes, ESPN, and others — were reported to be following this trend. A Digital Content Next (formerly known as Online Publishers Association) survey found that 80% were interested in pricing and selling their ad inventory according to time-based metrics.

While native advertising has only really began to take hold the past few years, preliminary results already show incredibly promising results for consumer engagement and attention metrics. For example, in a study by IPG Media Labs and Sharethrough, subjects were 25% more likely to look at a native ad than they were at a banner. Consumers also looked at native ads 53% more frequently.

Native expands publishers' portfolio of digital ad solutions. Marketers are always looking for new ways to reach and engage their audience. While native is not a new concept by any means — think of newspaper and magazines’ advertorials — this new native resurgence provides marketers with an exciting new digital channel to explore. While marketers’ goals will vary from campaign to campaign, the good news is that marketers are already receptive to native executions (evidenced by increasing native ad spend projections). Among many factors, we have content marketing to thank for priming the pump—marketers are now well bought into the fact that content has positive impact across the sales and marketing funnel. Publishers’ new native ad formats provide a fresh perspective on content marketing initiatives.

Last but not least, there is something to be said about the increased sophistication of ad technology out there, which is making native uptake easier.

Planning Future Offerings

The key for publishers in adopting native will be to get it right — to make it work seamlessly for both consumers and marketers — and to work with the rest of the industry to alleviate natural growing pains, adopting the appropriate industry guidelines necessary for any emerging ad format.

7 comments about "Why Native Advertising Is A No-Brainer For Publishers And Marketers".
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  1. Ari Rosenberg from Performance Pricing Holdings, LLC, March 5, 2015 at 4:55 p.m.

    Brett is this column a native ad? I love the enthusiasm for a format that consumers not smart enough to ignore, literally get angry when they realize they were duped into reading.

    Native is bullshit -- we all know it but that doesn't stop us from selling it.

  2. Scott Pannier from DistroScale, March 6, 2015 at 11:21 a.m.

    Ari, if I remember correctly, you also shouted from the top of your mountain that sites who opened up their inventory to programmatic monetization would be dead by now. Native is not bulls**t when done correctly.

  3. Bob Gordon from The Auto Channel, March 6, 2015 at 3:49 p.m.

    Show us the money... before we disappear ...hmmm where will advertisers be able to reach a audience of potential customers after the editorial sites go away...

    If advertisers think that their hack stories can generate a meaningful audience, why would they need to pay a real site to carry their product story...

  4. Kevin Horne from Verizon, March 6, 2015 at 3:59 p.m.

    "Upworthy announced it would embrace “time-spent” as a better metric of reader engagement than traditional stats..." ... 1999 called, it wants its metric back

  5. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, March 6, 2015 at 5:12 p.m.

    At least you got the no brain part right!

  6. Ari Rosenberg from Performance Pricing Holdings, LLC, March 9, 2015 at 9:08 a.m.

    Scott Pannier, I don't live on a mountain, I live on the ground where ads get sold. When "native is done correctly" a consumer is tricked and that's not a sustainable ad sales strategy.

  7. Katherine Saviola from Revcontent, June 22, 2015 at 10:47 a.m.

    Hi Brett,

    Thanks for the valuable post on native advertising. I really enjoyed the hard statistics and references to studies on native advertising. It helps people see concrete examples of how native ads can be effective when done properly. 

    I cited your thoughts and linked back to this page in my own company's blog post titled, "6 Ways to Drive High-Quality Traffic to Your Website." I'd love for you to check it out here:

    Thanks for providing quality info that I can pass along to my readers, too.

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