Marketers are Shifting Toward View Through Conversions, Autoplay Video and Engagement

Marketers are Shifting Toward View Through Conversions, Autoplay Video and Engagement

This quarter for the Q4 2017 Native Intelligence Report Bidtellect Q4 2017 Native Intelligence Report, we took a deeper look at how marketers on our platform are utilizing view through conversions, video formats and engagement metrics. We decided to take a deeper look at view through conversions because of the role they play in the consumer’s path to purchase, specifically for brand awareness and top-funnel consumer relationships. Additionally, we analyzed video trends on our platform year over year to see how the trends have evolved over the course of the year. Lastly, even though we look at engagement metrics and all goal types every quarter, Q4 2017 proved to be particularly interesting.

Here is a brief overview of the trends revealed in this quarter’s report:

Trend #1: Growth in View-Through Conversions

View through conversions provide a more holistic picture of a consumer’s entire path to purchase. Advertising is about seeing and engaging with a brand through content, enhancing the relationship and making purchase behavior more likely during a future engagement with your brand down the funnel. Measuring and tracking view through conversions enables marketers to quantify top-funnel engagements more precisely, helping them understand their advertising budgets better, leading to more efficient spend and greater ROI for future budgets.

As a technology company with tremendous reach, Bidtellect’s platform accesses a wide audience and massively scales prospecting opportunities for brands. By exposing people to content that they wouldn’t normally see and tracking these engagements with view-through conversions, brands are expanding pathways to deeper engagement. Capturing these initial touchpoints is critical for brands to identify new potential audiences, drive that first engagement and ultimately push them through the funnel.  Although this seems obvious, there will always be a direct correlation between the branding you do and the conversions that you get.

Trend # 2: Shift Toward Autoplay Video Formats

2017 was a year of significant change for digital advertising and its key stakeholders. One of the most important developments was the industry-wide movement toward ad formats that provide a better experience for the end user. On the Bidtellect platform, and through the experience of our advertiser partners, we have found that in-content video is highly engaging, preferred by the consumer and ultimately performs better for campaigns. Comparatively, pre-roll video disrupts the consumer experience, lacks real user engagement, often leaves the viewer with a negative perspective on the brand and is usually ignored.  

Digging a bit deeper into in-content video formats, year-over-year we found that video budgets moved away from user-initiated formats toward autoplay formats. Performance metrics show better consumer engagement with the autoplay formats as this inventory is highly viewable, and integrated with the consumer journey. One thing to note is that the Bidtellect platform only offers autoplay that DO NOT have automatic sound, as this was one of the characteristics that were highly rejected by consumers, according to the Coalition for Better Ads.

Trend #3: Brands are Seeking Engagement Metrics to Understand Campaign Success

Year over year from Q4 2016 to Q4 2017 we have observed advertisers shifting focus from click-through rate toward engagement metrics when it comes to measuring their content distribution campaigns. This time last year, CTR was the dominant KPI, but now the numbers have changed drastically and marketers are equally using Engagement Metrics and CTR as indicators of campaign success.

For a long time, we have predicted that the tides would turn this way, which is why we developed a proprietary metric to measure post-click activity on content called Engagement Score. This metric looks at actions like bounce rate, time on site and page views per visit. When it comes to content, marketers simply cannot measure success the same way they do for traditional display ads, and as they realize this to be the case they are integrating more advanced, meaningful insights and analytics into their strategies.
Bidtellect Q4 2017 Native Intelligence Report to learn more about these trends. 

2018 Predictions and Trends for Content Marketing and Native Advertising

2018 Predictions and Trends for Content Marketing and Native Advertising

The barrier between content creation and content distribution will finally come down.
Brands have already begun to move toward content-first strategies and away from offer-driven marketing, but 2018 will be a truly transitional year.  Right now, content creation and content distribution often exist in silos, preventing one from influencing the other and causing marketers to miss a significant opportunity when it comes to their content marketing strategy and execution.

With the two pieces linked, marketers can gather behavioral insights from distribution campaigns and feed them back into their creation strategy, leading to smarter, more valuable content for consumers. Creating and distributing high-quality content will help advertisers move away from an “offer-driven” approach and create an overall optimized experience for the end user.  
In 2018 these two pieces of content marketing will work in conjunction, enabling marketers to travel the “last mile” in linking the right content with the right consumer, at the right moment in time. Content is the future of brand/consumer relationships and it’s critical that brands get this last piece right in order to fully capitalize on the opportunity ahead.

Contextual Optimization Will Be Essential.
With enforcement of GDPR coming in May 2018, the rollout of iOS 11 with its restrictions on persistent cookies, as well as the continued adoption of server-side header bidding with its decreased match rates, there will be an increasing number of programmatic auctions that cannot be matched to a known user. This shift in landscape necessitates another way to optimize and target that doesn’t rely on a decreasing amount of matched user data. Contextual optimization offers an intelligent way to optimize and target unmatched (and matched for that matter) ad inventory, and it’s not limited to what site the ad is on.

Native is the best opportunity to exploit contextual optimization, as it provides more data points for context. The look and feel of every single ad placement is unique, and can be correlated even more closely with user behavior.  Contextual targeting has always been critical in Native Advertising, given that the advertisers’ content must match the form and function of its environment. But with the previously mentioned industry changes, the ability to contextually target will become even more important for advertisers to make relevant and valuable connections with consumers.

Dynamic Creative Optimization: The Dream Becomes Reality.
Each new innovation in programmatic technology focuses on personalizing the advertising experience for consumers.  Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) has been on the wishlist for a long time and it will finally be achieved in 2018. DCO provides the technology to massively simplify the process of tailoring content experiences for consumers in real-time. With this capability, advertisers can reach target audiences with unique creative variations that cater to the specific user being served the ad. This will be transformative for the way consumers feel when they engage with a brand, significantly driving engagement, conversions, brand affinity and ultimately optimizing the experience.

There Will be More Industry Collaboration to Fight Fraud.
Industry initiatives such as Ads.txt, Ads.cert and TAG will continue to play an important role in ridding the digital ecosystem of fraud. It’s the responsibility of every advertiser, publisher and technology company to ensure they are complying. But the onus is on each constituent to not only comply, but to be proactive and to communicate.

We should actively facilitate an open dialogue between all players, sharing what we’ve learned. It’s critical that DSPs and SSPs work together to be a part of the solution, not simply hope that someone else is taking care of it. We will work together as an industry to make advertising safe and measurable all the way through to consumer engagement and post-click activity.

Immersive Units Will Become More Mainstream.
Consumers are highly inundated with advertising messages and brands need new and immersive ways to connect with them in these crowded environments. Cinemagraphs are an example of a highly engaging and growing format that brands are using to stand out and capture attention. They combine the movement of a video with the stillness of an image, bringing eye-catching creatives to.

Custom type units are increasingly available in the programmatic marketplace. When Native formats first emerged and publishers rapidly adopted them it was difficult to scale. The advent of Native programmatic was the first transition of premium placements into RTB environments. All of this supports that programmatic is no longer about remnant inventory.  It’s about leveraging data to connect advertisers with relevant consumers in real-time. Native programmatic is the future.

Native is the Future of Mobile and Video.
As consumers increasingly reject invasive content experiences such as pre-roll and banners, brands seek new and innovative ways to connect with them. Consumers’ attention has become so precious, particularly in mobile and video environments, that when brands engage with consumers it must be valuable, relevant and organic.
Native by definition means that the content being served will match the form and function of its content and the surrounding content. The shift has already begun, but mobile and video budgets will continue moving toward Native as advertisers see better performance and ultimately enhances user experiences with their content.

Viewing Native Advertising Through A Broader Content Marketing Lens

Viewing Native Advertising Through A Broader Content Marketing Lens

Bidtellect’s second quarterly report for 2017 again analyzes the billions of data points flowing through our Native Demand Side Platform (nDSP) to reveal important trends and insights into the Native advertising ecosystem for marketers. Several trends initially spotted in our first quarter report are now manifesting themselves more broadly and consistently than ever. This report focuses on these trends and their broader implications within digital marketing.

Broader Content Marketing Context

There is an exponential amount of content available online that consumers and businesses are increasingly seeking out. As consumers, we rely on valuable content to learn, educate ourselves and discover new things. The increase in these behaviors has made it more important that marketers view content consumption data through the broader lens of content marketing initiatives. By measuring the impact of these content marketing initiatives, marketers are able to make data-driven decisions that will ultimately lead to greater ROI on these efforts.

Highlights of Bidtellect’s Q2 2017 Findings

  • Cross-Device Strategy in Native is More Important than Ever
  • Measuring Engagement is More Valuable than CTR
  • Information-rich, Relevant Content has Highest Engagement

Importance of A Cross-Device Native Strategy

For the past four quarters, we have consistently seen that CTRs are higher on mobile than desktop. However, there is deeper engagement on desktop than mobile.

CTR by Device Q2 2017: Mobile CTR was higher than desktop by 65%
According to eMarketer, nearly four in five internet users worldwide will use a mobile phone to access the internet in 2017. Mobile is clearly the future of digital media and the way consumers choose to engage with content and brands. But although the consumer is already there, the experience has not quite achieved the same caliber as desktop. There is a clear distinction between how content renders on desktop versus mobile. For example, if you create a beautiful infographic, chances are, unless you have created a mobile-friendly version, the infographic will not render on mobile which will cause high bounce rates. In addition, the conversion path has to be seamless on mobile, otherwise, consumers will get frustrated and not complete the sale.
Native ad formats play a critical role in facilitating a better mobile experience. eMarketer also found that Native mobile will represent 64.5% of all US mobile display ad spending this year. By definition, Native offers an enhanced, more immersive content experience for users, so it follows that these formats would make a perfect fit for mobile environments. The small screens on mobile devices led to the advent and widespread adoption of the feed. In-feed placements match the form and function of the surrounding content within that feed, creating a nondisruptive, organic mobile experience.
Consumers have high expectations for their content and will only spend time-consuming content that offers a personalized experience with valuable content. The challenge is that the utilization of multiple devices and platforms gave rise to highly fragmented media consumption. Brands are responding to these expectations and inevitable fragmentation by creating and distributing content that caters to each specific distribution environment. This specialization is even more critical on mobile than desktop, where the experience is inherently less user-friendly.

Content Marketing Measurement

Many brands still struggle with how to measure the success of their content marketing and distribution strategies and campaigns. Some struggle with identifying the best metrics to use and some still turn to less sophisticated metrics such as CTR because that is what is the most comfortable.
Brands are creating content for their audiences for a variety of reasons, so before setting the metric, brands must set an objective. Are they hoping to achieve brand awareness? Downloads or signups? This is really important to identify beforehand in order to get the most ROI from content. There are a couple of things to take into consideration at the very beginning stages.  Why was the content created in the first place? What is the intention and target within the sales funnel?  We see that specific types of content targeted to upper, mid or lower funnel consumers won’t back into certain performance metrics. It’s like fitting a circle into a box, you can squeeze it in there, but when it comes out it will be wrinkled.
This quarter, 44% of marketers used CTR as a primary indicator of success, 37% used engagement and 19% conversions. Compared to Q1 2017, engagement is up significantly and conversions dropped.

Specifically, engagement increased from 23% to 37% and conversions dropped from 40% to 19%. While we recognize the importance of CTR for advertisers, there are additional optimization tools that are significant when analyzing engagement.  As a marketer, would you rather know if someone clicked on your ad or engaged with your brand on a deeper level?

Engagement by Category

In the second quarter, Technology, Travel, Business and Food & Drink were the top engaging content categories. During the summer months, Travel and Food & Drink content is highly sought after due to warm weather, summer BBQs and vacations.

Report Summary

The second quarter of 2017 saw a continuation and expansion of several key trends in consumer engagement within digital advertising.  Cross-device measurement and, importantly, the nuanced differences in consumer response and engagement on different devices is more critical than ever.  Advertising specifically tailored to device type and delivered natively is resonating the best with consumers compared to other strategies.
Importantly, measurement beyond CTR, and using post-click metrics as actionable intelligence, is taking on greater urgency than ever.  Consumers are showing a pronounced tendency to ignore ads in favor of paid content, not only because they are contextually relevant, but because overall they deliver a better user experience.
The broader implications of the second quarter data suggest a much broader context for Native advertising within the content marketing sphere.  It is essential that marketers view these data through that lens, as a successful content distribution strategy will lead to a stronger content marketing strategy.
Click here for reports from Q3 2016Q4 2016 and Q1 2017.

About This Report

Bidtellect’s Quarterly Native Report was created to provide advertisers with important insights and trends in the Native Advertising industry. Bidtellect’s platform processes over 5 billion Native auctions daily across 14 million distinctly targetable placements, and this number continues to grow quarter over quarter. We collect data from the start of an auction through post-click consumer activity including but not limited to the metrics captured in this report.

Bidtellect’s Q1 2017 Native Quarterly Report

Bidtellect’s Q1 2017 Native Quarterly Report


Each quarter we provide a high-level overview of the Native Advertising ecosystem so that marketers can have a deeper understanding of their content distribution strategies. This quarter, in addition to trends in Standard Native and Native Video campaigns, we incorporated the utilization of data in content marketing as advertisers invest heavily in data to ensure precise targeting throughout the consumer funnel.
Native advertising has often been perceived as an upper-funnel strategy used to increase brand awareness. However, content now sits at the center of brands’ marketing campaigns and is used to connect and engage with consumers at all stages of the consumer lifecycle. Layering in data segments and retargeting strategies enables marketers to reach target audiences with their content, deliver sequential messaging as a consumer moves down the funnel and ultimately drive results.

Here are the 3 main trends we found for the Q1 2017 report:

Data is Playing an Increasingly Important Role in Content Distribution 
The use of data targeting in Native advertising campaigns has grown significantly throughout the past year. As Native advertising has emerged as a major player in brand’s marketing strategies, advertisers have begun to apply the same tactics from traditional display advertising to their content distribution strategies.
data in native advertising
B2B Advertisers Are Investing More Heavily in Account-Based Marketing
Since integrating with Bombora and D&B and offering Account-Based Marketing we have seen a 340% increase in utilization throughout Q1. B2B campaigns have seen tremendous success with Native, now driving even greater results with more precise targeting through account-based marketing.


Retargeting is a Valuable Element for Brands’ Direct Response Native Campaigns
When Native first emerged many viewed it as single faceted, only used for brand awareness and upper-funnel campaigns. But as Native has gained widespread adoption with advertisers and publishers it has proved itself as an invaluable part of any campaign, regardless of the objective (Direct Response, Conversions, Brand Awareness etc.)

retargeting in native advertising
Reach out to marketing@bidtellect.com to request a copy of the report.

Bidtellect’s Quarterly Native Report Q4 2016

Bidtellect’s Quarterly Native Report Q4 2016

Bidtellect’s quarterly report analyzes the billions of data points flowing through our Native Demand Side Platform (nDSP), to reveal important trends and insights into the Native advertising ecosystem for marketers currently executing Native campaigns and those looking to learn more. This quarter we decided to take a deeper look into Native video as marketers are creating more video content to incorporate in their media plans.

The fragmented digital media landscape has caused marketers to struggle with creating the right content for the right distribution platform. Understanding how video content is performing is critical for marketers to be able to create relevant original content for each destination. Native video formats emerged as a way to solve for this major obstacle in the ecosystem. It allows marketers to identify how a specific video is performing and ensure that they are reaching consumers with engaging content in organic and relevant environments.

Here are the 3 main trends and takeaways we found in Native video and standard Native (In-Feed, In-Ad and Recommendation Widgets) throughout Q3 and Q4 2016:

Native Video is Growing…Fast
An increasing number of marketers are incorporating video based content into their holistic marketing strategies, and as they are seeing success with campaign objectives and consumer engagement, they are investing more heavily. More than ever, content marketing is becoming a central component of any brand’s strategy, and including video in that solidifies a well rounded, immersive content plan. People are consuming an increasing amount of video content online and brands know that they need to be reaching them with quality video content in organic, relevant environments.


In-Feed Delivers Engagement for Native Video
Similar to what last quarter’s report found with standard Native In-Feed, Native In-feed video is the most engaging Native video product. The user-initiated video is consumer friendly, non-intrusive and provides the most qualified, engaged user for a marketer. In fact, 40% of users that click to watch an In-Feed video go on to click on the landing page. Because of its highly engaging nature, In-Feed can be most useful when targeting consumers that are lower in the funnel and for campaigns with conversion objectives.

The autoplay products can be more beneficial for reaching consumers in the upper funnel and with branding and awareness campaigns. For more details on the difference between each video product, and how to best execute Native video for your campaign needs click here.


Marketers Continue to Consolidate
The sophisticated technology available today enables higher levels of productivity, enhancements in workflow efficiency, more precise measurement and optimization and ultimately, better performance and results. As brands continue to execute cross-device and cross-platform campaigns, media buyers are seeking a more efficient workflow process and are moving toward consolidated platforms. We are seeing this on our platform as the number of brands executing both Native video and standard Native programmatically continues to rise.


Native Across Device
People are actively consuming content across devices. The report found that CTRs were 200% higher in Q4 on mobile devices than desktop. However, we are still seeing deeper engagement on desktop. Although industry initiatives continue to push for greater mobile content experiences, (AMP etc.) consumers are still struggling to have the same level of meaningful engagement on their mobile devices.


How Are Consumers Engaging Across Publisher Categories?
November’s election generated enormous buzz and conversation it’s no surprise that News and Law, Gov’t & Politics were two of the most engaging publisher categories in Q4 2016, both showing average Engagement Scores of over 9.

Reach out to marketing@bidtellect.com to request a copy of the report.