Programmatic Native Will Kill Two Birds With One Stone

Research can throw up some interesting statistics, and none more so than an Association of Publishers (AOP) finding that publishers are nearly as scared of brands moving into content generation as they are ad blocking. OK -- so with two in three citing ad blocking and just over one in three citing branded content as their primary fear, it's ad avoidance that is clearly out in front. However, the next biggest concern is clearly brands moving into generating their own content.  

Interestingly, when it comes to how they are going to deal with their concerns the respondents appear split between relying on creating bespoke content for advertisers and ramping up programmatic efforts. Half of those concentrating on programmatic explained they would develop private, direct programmatic channels. So the two paths seem to be either encouraging branded content on to their sites as native advertising or ramping up efforts to attract more automated advertising. 

I'm not sure if it's just me, but don't paths seem right? Can't both paths combine to deliver programmatic native? Or at least can't the direct, private programmatic marketplaces be used to place native advertising? I blogged about this question this week only to find that Sharethrough and AppNexus have now concluded a deal to allow articles to be placed programmatically. 

It must be a sign of things to come, doesn't it? Ad-blocking rates are rising, particularly among millennials, and blockers are now available across desktop browsers as well as iOS and Android. So it stands to reason that publishers are going to have to supplement declining revenue in some way and native makes perfect sense. While they're developing private programmatic routes to their inventory, why not extend this to native spots within their editorial flow?

I say direct, private programmatic, because editorial is far too precious to open up to all and sundry. Pre-agreed rates could be directly agreed by publishers and maybe real time buying being permitted but only for selected brands, and perhaps even only on approved content, which the publisher knows will not bring down the tone of their editorial. They know they can get away with ads being of varying quality, but once they begin to allow programmatic placements within their editorial flow, publishers know poor content will reflect badly on them.

Personally, I just don't get how brands moving into content is a bad thing. I could be being overly optimistic, but do brands really want to be publishers? To a limited extent maybe -- but would they not rather see the content they create, which lies in the upper end of the advertising and marketing assets, firmly positioned on a site that carries kudos among its core audience? The alternative is to launch a site themselves or host content on their own Web site. it's expensive and time-consuming, and brands must surely realise that readers will place more trust in a piece of content carried by a reputable publication, clearly labelled as 'brought to you by', than the same content on a microsite or spin off online publication developed by the brand which they've never heard of. 

Optimistic? Almost certainly. But with good reason. Brands need the reputation of decent publishers to add weight to their native and publishers need revenue from good quality native to combat ad blocking. Many are working on direct, programmatic and so the tools are there, the will is there and so is the budget. What's not to be optimistic about?

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