Eight in 10 of those surveyed appreciate that they aren’t forced to watch/view native ads. In other words, the people surveyed value having a choice. The research also found that consumers are 12 times more likely to “strongly agree” that they prefer native ads.
BuzzFeed and Omnicom Media Group teamed up on the multiphase “Next Level Native” research study, which sought to explore how best to define native advertising and lessen confusion among consumers and advertisers; understand consumer perceptions of and engagement with native; demonstrate native’s return on investment; and identify best practices.
The study, which kicked off with qualitative research in March, included usability research conducted with Create with Context, and incorporated eye-tracking tests across desktop and mobile devices.
Among the key takeaways:
-- Advertising has become personal. Consumers are taking charge when engaging with ads by changing their cognitive patterns and behavior. “Native [advertising] becomes a philosophy to engage in permissive marketing and personal advertising,” said Ed Wong, vice president of research and insights, BuzzFeed.
-- Native advertising enables brands to reconnect with their audience and creates the ability to drive action. Consumers regularly read content that is sponsored, presented or promoted.
-- Native ads are more likely to grab attention, entertain, be seen as thought-provoking and inspire action: “For too long, native had the connotation that it was a niche thing, but it’s really about permissive, connected advertising,” Wong said.
-- Consumers ages 18 to 54 are open to native ads across content and brand categories.
One of the most fascinating parts of the study for Wong was establishing through eye-tracking that there are dead zones -- areas that consumers avoid because they have become conditioned to expect ads there. “They literally put up barriers where they don’t think experiences fit. We believe we have to recapture this lost attention because advertising is personal,” he said.
But when content and advertising become one, consumers get into the zone. Nearly 7 in 10 ads viewed in content zones are viewed vs. 31% of ads in dead zones.
And while viewability as measured by providers like Integral Ad Science and Moat is a hot topic, the study highlighted that even if ads are loaded and viewed, only 37% of them are cognitively processed. But with native, “when content is advertising and advertising is content, you get 2 times the cognitive impressions,” Wong added.
Furthermore, the consumers surveyed shared their expectations of native advertising. Seventy-five percent said native advertising needs to be non-interruptive; 64% said it needs to be clearly labeled; and 62% said it needs to feel relevant to them.
Eye-tracking data of several thousand sites that looked at real people interacting with sites and what it found is when advertising is stuck in one place on the page, people will only look at 37% of ads served whereas native ads are looked at 68% of the time.
And 60% said that they “strongly agree” on a five-point scale that native ads are more entertaining compared to other forms of digital advertising.
“We were surprised by the level of receptivity consumers across generations have toward native advertising. They’re saying native fits with the content they’re viewing, that it feels relatable and personalized,” said Priscilla Aydin, associate director of primary Research and Insights, Omnicom Media Group. Aydin said this is significant for Omnicom, which works across all types of clients in various product and service categories.