The time is ripe for native programmatic advertising to finally take off.
Recently, the Interactive Advertising Bureau announced the rollout of version 1.2 of its OpenNative RTB spec (disclosure: I was a member of the working group that produced this standard), which will now offer third-party companies, including dynamic creative optimization (DCO) platforms, the native ad serving capability to rationalize the process of dynamically rendering native ads.
Native advertising, or sponsored or branded content—take your pick—has received a lot of attention because of its ability to adapt to the voice and design within a publisher’s editorial mission in a seamless manner.
The idea has been to have the native ad be so central to the editorial approach that the “sponsored” or “native” tag would be the only means by which the publisher could exercise full transparency with its audience. And with the successful press and industry reaction to such high-profile campaigns as the New York Times’ work for Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” marketers have been eager to generate their own native efforts.
However, the big challenge has been how to go from these high-touch, big-budget native campaigns, which were too expensive for many brands, to a more cost-effective and highly targeted approach that could be scalable for all advertisers. Against this backdrop, a handful of industry players marshaled resources and intellectual capital to create a native programmatic marketplace that could drive the scalability of this nascent approach.
After all, marketers have always stored a ton of content beyond their paid ad efforts, such as marketing collateral for point-of-purchase initiatives. Or, if you’re a major home improvement brand, chances are you might have thousands of how-to articles on your Web site, which could easily be repurposed for ancillary consumer engagement. Brands have been poised to start inserting these assets into the native bid stream.
As almost a historical accident, the initial OpenRTB Native 1.1 specification was primarily geared towards media supply and demand. Native assets would be uploaded directly into either the demand-side or supply-side platform, with the interactions between the two occurring during the bidding process itself. This is similar to the early days of networks and exchanges before the introduction of third-party ad tags.
Version 1.2 now offers third-party companies, including DCO platforms, the native ad-serving capability to dynamically render native ads on the fly in real time and have them run programmatically. As a result,third-party native advertising will now be on par with what can already be accomplished in display and video.
The ripple effect of this new OpenNative RTB spec will be helpful as it relates to the role of demand-side platforms (DSPs). By allowing third-party dynamic creative specialists a seat in the native programmatic engine room, DSPs can now leverage the technology that dynamic creative optimization platforms bring, freeing them up to continue their focus on media and data execution.
These new specs open up the possibility for marketers to scale native content across multiple channels. By applying dynamic creative optimization, brands now can engage with customers seamlessly within any given editorial environment.