Last week the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) released its “Guidance Report on Mobile Native Advertising.” The report comes as native formats seem to be more popular than ever. And yet publishers are still wrestling with ad formats, creative, labeling, measurement and best practices. The MMA put a stake in the ground to clarify some of the confusion over native advertising standards. But does the guidance go far enough?
The report’s findings reveal that mobile native advertising is quite effective in engaging consumers. “More specifically, when optimized for frequency of exposure, mobile native advertising performed as much as 10 times better compared to mobile display advertising at similar frequency,” the report found. If that's true, native is pretty compelling -- but its performance isn't always so easy to measure.
The MMA’s Mobile Native Advertising Committee focused on four points: relevancy, transparency, creative optimization and measurement. Those are definitely the correct points for a good start.
While the guidance for marketers and publishers is much-needed, the recommendations are rather vague. For example, for advertisers, the MMA recommends:
1. Identifying the most relevant environments and publisher contexts for campaigns and customizing messaging and format accordingly. (This is rather basic, no?)
2. Raising the bar on ad creative to be more compelling to consumers. (Thumbs up on this point. Higher quality creative is needed, especially in campaigns that aren't custom or for so-called "premium" publishers).
3. Increasing exposure via social and viral trends for advertising in social feeds. (This is so vague).
4. Identifying direct response metrics and final conversion metrics that impact business results, and optimizing campaigns to achieve them. (Now this makes sense).
For publishers, the MMA recommends:
1. Building trust with readers by disclosing that a unit is an ad, along with the name of the advertiser. (This seems rather obvious. Of course native ads and content should be labeled! Many publishers do a good job with this, but some do not.)
2. Identifying the most appropriate placements within mobile sites to balance content with ads. (This is so vague -- what are the most appropriate placements?
3. Creating a more persistent awareness of ad units by modulating the refresh rates based on the content type and user behavior. (This makes sense).
Overall, the MMA has done the industry a service by issuing guidance. Now let's see which advertisers and publishers will show case studies that speak to each point. That would be another good start.