One of the hottest debates in media today is centered on native advertising. As an advertising professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, I sit in the middle of that debate. With advertising and public relations professors on one side and journalists on the other, it’s clear that everyone has their version of the facts.
In an effort to rise above the American political discourse, I’ll put forth the top five reasons why native advertising is the best thing to happen to the media industry now and for the future. Feel free to disagree with the conclusions drawn from the facts, but these are the reasons why native advertising is great.
Consumers prefer it: Research has proven that consumers are more likely to look at native content vs. traditional banner ads. Research from IPG and Sharethrough in 2013 showed that people actually looked at native content 52% more frequently than banner ads. In fact, native content was looked at slightly more than the same content presented as editorial. Native content is seeing click-through rates that are at least double those of traditional banner ads.
Consumers find it beneficial: A 2016 IPG/Forbes/Newhouse study (that I co-authored) found that 22% of people perceive native advertising as intended to educate, versus only 4% seeing banner ads as teachable moments. Consumers are also less likely to classify native content as an “ad” and are equally as likely to find it appealing.
They trust it: When native content is clearly labeled and seen as quality content, consumers report higher trust in the brand. This is according to a study conducted by Contently last year. Interestingly, consumers report less trust of “branded content” overall, with a loss in credibility for the source — but when presented with quality branded content, the impact is more positive.
They remember it: The IPG/Forbes/Newhouse study found even higher rates of recall for branded content than in IPG’s original study with Sharethrough in 2013. Unaided recall went up 76%: from 26% in 2013 ,to 46% in 2016. Aided recall was 66% in the later study, compared to only 49% in 2013.
They respond positively to it: One of the biggest arguments against branded content is that it diminishes the trust between the consumer and the brand and/or the publisher. Research just hasn’t been able to demonstrate consistent proof of that. Netflix has been one of the most prolific branded content marketers to date, and it just announced forecast-busting subscriber additions for Q3. In fact, in the 2016, IPG study, purchase intent doubled among people exposed to branded content -- and almost tripled when that content was presented in conjunction with banner ads.
I believe in journalistic integrity; I believe in a free press. In order for the press to be free to inform the public, it must have a sustainable business model. The traditional ad model is proving unsustainable.
People bemoaned television advertising in the beginning. The 30-second ad was going to corrupt people with misinformation -- and God help us when the 15-second ad arrived.
We, as a society, have survived advertising since the beginning of time. I don’t believe we will survive without a business model to sustain journalism. If branded content can sell product and contribute to the revenues of publishers, what’s wrong with that?
You tell me.