Commentary

A Modest Proposal: Truly 'Native' Mobile Advertising

Facebook is trying out a new “Watch Later” button on videos in its desktop feed. According to a report in TechCrunch, the company, which is pushing hard to rival YouTube, quietly added this option to some clips it feeds into the desktop feed.  As the report acknowledges, Facebook users have been able to save content in the past, but this feature makes it easier. More to the point, it acknowledges how much we triage our media. We aren’t just consuming the new feed-based content across screens. We are scanning, sharing and saving for later.

The addition of a Watch Later button seems, then, an obvious move for Facebook. It helps increase the number of videos viewed and provides insight into the types of content that users defer for later.

All of which raises the bigger question for the mobile ad ecosystem: Why isn’t a “Watch Later” button an option on all mobile ads? We all bemoan the interruptive nature of advertising generally and mobile advertising in particular. So let users at least decide when they want to be interrupted.

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I admit that I don’t know all the nuances of mobile ad network mechanics and the kind of device interactions possible from an ad unit. But would it be so hard for a save button to integrate with the basic sharing tools in the iOS and Android operating systems? Then I wouldn't need to click through on an ad immediately, but could instead email it to myself, bookmark it on Pinterest, or push into Evernote.

Talk me down from this. It seems so obvious to me. So much ink is spent talking about “native advertising” and making ads less interruptive and like content. But as most marketers should understand by now (if they thought about mobile for more than a month), mobile is a behavior, not just a medium. Being native to mobile is not just about blending with the content. It is about conforming to the mobile behaviors of scanning, reviewing, triaging. Being mobile-first should mean building mobile ad functionality that is itself “native” to the mobile use case.

3 comments about "A Modest Proposal: Truly 'Native' Mobile Advertising".
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  1. Daniel Meehan from PadSquad LLC, July 16, 2015 at 3:12 p.m.

    Isn't this the Adkeeper model, which never gained traction?  http://adage.com/article/digital/learn-adkeeper-s-epic-fail/291725/

  2. Steve Smith from Mediapost, July 16, 2015 at 3:19 p.m.

    Daniel

    Yes some vendors tried on their own to do this, which is why I am suggesting it needs to be done at the OS level or as a common standard within the infrastructure. Single players trying to make it happen won't 

  3. Anni Paul from BoscoSystems, July 24, 2015 at 4:56 p.m.

    Yes, native ads have some value, but their general effectiveness is vastly overblown. To credit the native format while discounting the effectiveness of a good mobile ad or mobile ad campaign (using rich media, video, etc) is totally misleading. A good ad -- one that's relevant to the user and attractive -- is going to be pretty tough to beat, even with the best native ad. Case in point, Airpush used Abstract Banners to deliver 80% brand lift on a Stand Up To Cancer Campaign -- http://www.airpush.com/resources/case-studies/  Yes, I'm saying I would chose a banner ad over a native ad. I think it would win out in the end.

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