According to eMarketer, Native display ad spending will surpass traditional display spending 2016 and will grow at double-digit rates for several years, reaching $36.3 billion by 2021. As marketers wade deeper into Native Advertising, they need to have a better understanding of how to drive the best results and engagement across devices, formats, success metrics and content categories. It’s important that marketers understand that Native Advertising is facilitating broader Content Marketing strategies and therefore needs to be treated differently than traditional display.
Bidtellect’s inaugural quarterly report analyzes our platform activity in order to provide advertisers with important insights and trends in the Native Advertising industry. Bidtellect’s platform processes over 5 billion Native auctions daily across 6.5 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.
Native is Cross-Device
Mobile has undoubtedly solidified its place as the device of choice for people as we’ve come to expect information on demand, no matter where we are. So it makes sense that the report reveals that CTRs were an average of 200% higher on mobile than desktop in Q1-Q3 2016. It’s clear that consumers are actively clicking on content on mobile devices. but what are they actually doing with that content once they are there?
Desktop is Winning Engagement
Although CTRs were higher on mobile than desktop, the report also shows that mobile is not where the deeper engagement is happening. Post-click engagement is significantly greater on desktop than mobile. On average in 2016 year-to-date, pageviews were 130% higher on desktop than mobile, and bounce rates were 37% lower on desktop than mobile. While the value of mobile as a platform for marketers to connect with consumers is undeniable, there are still improvements that need to be made for it to become as engaging as desktop.
Marketers Primary Native Campaign Objectives
Demand for Native has increased so rapidly and marketers are using the more common and less sophisticated metrics such as CTR to measure campaign success. When using new formats, marketers tend to stick with what they know, but as Native continues to grow, Bidtellect believes that post-engagement metrics will become more widely adopted.
Different Formats Generate Different Levels of Engagement
The data shows that In-feed placements generate higher page views and lower bounce rates than the In-Ad and Recommendation Widget units. In-Feed is the most premium Native unit driving the highest consumer engagement. On average in 2016 year-to-date, In-feed pageviews were 147% higher than In-Ad and 163% higher than RW, In-feed bounce rates were 19% lower than In-Ad and 30% lower RW. Learn more about the different Native ad formats and their various benefits here.
How Are Consumers Engaging Across Publisher Categories?
Bidtellect’s Engagement Score is the industry’s only post-click engagement metric, designed to determine how engaging a given piece of content is. The proprietary algorithm tracks, measures and optimizes against pageviews, time on site, bounce rate and user sessions. All of these data points are expressed through a simple score (0-10) which provides great insight to the agency/advertiser on what device, format or piece of content is seeing the highest engagement.
As people are planning their winter and holiday vacations they were actively engaging with travel based content in Q3. Law, Gov’t & Politics and News based content were also highly engaged with in Q3, correlating with the Presidential Election in November.
Actionable Insights and Key Takeaways
- For marketers trying to reach their audiences on mobile devices, they need to transition away from CTR as a success metric, and toward post-click engagement metrics. Consumers are clicking on content on their mobile devices, but are less likely to engage further on mobile than desktop. For marketers to get the most out of their cross-device content marketing and Native advertising strategies, they need to optimize against these post-engagement metrics.
- In-Feed placements drive the most consumer engagement compared to In-Ad and Recommendation Widgets. All three formats are extremely valuable, but including In-Feed placements in your Native plans will ultimately drive the best results with consumers.
- Plan ahead. Creating and distributing timely content to your consumers will produce the highest levels of engagement. Don’t wait for the days or week before an event, reach them in the weeks and months leading up so they are fully educated.
- Post-engagement metrics, across devices and formats, will become increasingly critical for marketers as they seek more meaningful ways to determine how consumers are interacting with their content.
Contact us here to request a copy of the report! We look forward to bringing you future reports and updates on the Native advertising ecosystem each quarter.
Judging by industry buzz and press coverage in the past year, one would think that all publishers have embraced native advertising – ads that feel ”native” to the content — as an important monetization driver in the age of programmatic, data-driven marketing. Indeed, a significant portion of publishers have embraced native at such a rapid pace that it has surprised me. They’ve effected significant, vast changes to their infrastructures including wholesale redesigns of Web presences to dramatically cut back their display advertising units in order to accommodate native ad units. ESPN, for example, did a huge redesign and got rid of 90% of ad banners. Yahoo!, Forbes.com, and Facebook have also embraced the opportunity.
Many publishers have realized that if they don’t get in now, the competition will leave them behind. Beyond that, properties have taken notice that well-executed native campaigns unquestionably perform better in every conceivable way than typically staid (and increasingly tuned-out) display ads. Moreover, with the irreversible pivot to a mobile-first universe, publishers are increasingly deeming it mandatory to embrace native because display ads are even more ineffective within the constraints of smartphones. Consumers are starting to take preemptive action as evidenced by the recent ad blocker controversy stirred up by Apple’s recent iOS mobile software release.
But, as someone on the front lines of this movement, you might be surprised to hear, from my vantage point at least, another major reason why still many publishers haven’t embraced native ads,.
Is it a cost issue? Scalability? Native ads are increasingly scalable as several players including my company Bidtellect have entered the marketplace in recent years with platforms that enable native ads to be traded programmatically. So, no, those aren’t the primary factors. You might be surprised when I tell you what I believe is at the heart of many properties’ reticence.
It’s editorial pushback.
In this age of publisher content studios and branded content, the age-old church & state friction between editorial and ad sales would seem to be an antiquated notion. Unfortunately, I have to report that it still rears its head in a significant manner in many publisher organizations.
As someone who has run publishing entities over the past 20 plus years, I can tell you that that legacy lives on in many media companies and is holding many organizations back. Many editorial people still cling to the non-negotiable credo that the “written word can never be for sale.” These folks’ concerns stem from the belief that if readers ever thought for a second that the integrity of an editorial product was sold, the brand would be irreparably tarnished. There is definitely a generational element in terms of this editorial resistance. Much of it is vestigial but it has filtered into the mindsets of newsroom millennials as well, who one major publisher told me “scream the loudest about ‘selling out.’”
With all due respect to these dyed-in-the-wool traditionalists (most prevalent in those media companies transitioning from old to new media), I disagree that it’s the slippery slope that they claim it to be. In today’s on-demand media world, great content – from any source, including paid content – is embraced by consumers. The fact of the matter is that effective native advertising can co-exist with or even enhance traditional editorial content. They are not mutually exclusive.
These editorial naysayers are in my opinion conflating the danger of jettisoning editorial integrity. To begin with, consumers aren’t nearly as precious about editorial and advertising separation as they used to be, as witnessed by the tremendous successes of such disparate properties as Buzzfeed, Forbes and the New York Times. In addition, a pivotal, fundamental change sweeping the marketing business is how brands are embracing the notion of “brand as publisher” by committing to great content creation as much as ad creation. Consumers, for the most part, have bought in. It doesn’t matter to them whether the editorial department created it or someone at Unilever did, as long as it’s good.
If you analyze the history of publishing, this seemingly newfound close alignment between editorial and advertising has actually existed in a practical, if not formalized, sense for decades. During my days at Ziff-Davis, I can recall my sales guys coaching advertisers on how to write ads in the style and sensibility of the editorial to be the most effective. If a magazine’s editorial heritage is steeped in product reviews and you are selling printers, it would be wise to follow that advice. More recently, Yahoo! chief Marissa Mayer accurately compared Vogue’s editorial model with the native ad model. If you are a fashion house advertising in Vogue, you want to make your ad look as much like the content as possible.
The dichotomy of fear is a fascinating thing. On the one hand, it can inspire positive forward movement; on the other, it can paralyze people. Publishing companies have a choice as to how they want to let it affect them. As always, consumers are showing the way forward by embracing effective native advertising, which leaves publishers with a wonderful opportunity to fully exploit the monetization potential of their properties.