the native edge

February 23, 2017

Over the next five years, marketers will especially embrace mobile. Mobile will drive up spending on video, search, display, and social, and propel the migration of ad dollars away from traditional media, including newspapers and magazines.*
The Indian scenario is not very different—an estimated 314 million Indians will have access to internet via mobile in 20171. This high adoption rate of mobile internet is redefining the advertising paradigm and ways of engaging with customers.

Digital marketing has long become an accepted necessity for businesses across the world. And mobile, with its always-on capability, has become the front-runner of innovation in the digital world. However, despite mobile being the fastest growing and largest segment of global online advertising revenue, it does come with a unique set of challenges—chief among these is a high level of dependence on ad formats such as banners that originated in the desktop advertising world. Although these are being used in mobile advertising, they are not truly mobile-first in form or function.
Consequently, marketers and publishers unanimously agree that the existing ad formats are disruptive and ineffective for mobile users, leading to user frustration and disengagement. The need of the hour is to provide mobile-first ad formats that allow for seamless design, increased customization, meaningful engagement, and greater respect for user preferences. The answer is native advertising.
Native ads solve all the challenges posed by traditional mobile formats while being truly mobile-first, making them the most valuable. According to BI Intelligence, by 2021, native display ad revenue in the US is estimated to make up 74% of total US display ad revenue. The optimism around native advertising can be attributed to several reasons, such as their inherent mobile-first capabilities, and the introduction of new programmatic technologies that make it easier for publishers and advertisers to scale native campaigns. Having said that, the first set of native ad formats still pose challenges that need resolution, for native advertising to truly achieve its vision.

driving change in India
In many ways, India as a market gives advertisers a compelling reason to look at native ads. This generation of ‘new-to-net’ users will likely experience the internet for the first time not on a PC, but on a phone. We are witnessing high mobile adoption rates in India and ‘native’ is just right for these always-connected users. Native ads fit seamlessly into the interface, engage and draw them with content that is relevant and in context with their in-that-moment mobile experience.

ad formats
There are several formats to consider when delving into mobile native advertising. While choosing the right one, one must ensure that the site environment and marketing objectives are aligned to meet the same goals.



news feed: Ads that deliver sponsored news feeds in the publisher’s app. Ideal for editorial and news apps, and a favorite with premium brand advertisers looking to
drive engagement.

chat list: Ads that blend seamlessly with user-generated content in a chat list. Ideal for those looking to drive brand awareness or content engagement.

content stream: Ads that mimic the app’s content and appear in-stream. Ideal for social networking apps, and popular among advertisers to drive brand awareness and content engagement.

content wall: Ads for apps with multi-tile layout such as news and entertainment. Those looking to engage audience with content such as read, view, watch, or listen should opt for this layout.

carousel: Image-heavy interactive ad layout which is good for photo and video apps. A must for advertisers looking to leverage storytelling as a tool, in a non-intrusive fashion.

app wall: Good for fitting sponsored content into a publication that draws upon a list-offer view. It is mostly used for offer walls, app recommendation sites, and app directories. Ideal if you are looking to drive installs or traffic to the content.



native advertising tips for mobile marketers
Tip 1: pay attention to every aspect of your ad

Native advertising should match the unique user experience. Take every small detail into consideration—from the app you are using to the headline and language of the ad itself.
Native ads are not supposed to look or feel like ads; they should be subtle in tone and create value for both your business and users. This means providing useful information about your product that directly addresses your consumers’ needs.

Tip 2: follow a tried and true formula
Native ads are content-rich and need careful thought
to plan and produce. The editorial process can eat into the efficiency of a performance marketing team. In order to create a scalable process, create a workable template you can use for your native ads instead of starting over with a new approach each time. That way, you can focus on examining performance and finding out what works.

Tip 3: keep testing
Do not expect to get results from just one video or post. Consumers will need to see your native ads multiple times before they start paying attention. If your first attempt at native advertising does not achieve the desired results, do not give up. And, as you keep launching campaigns, be sure to continue testing, learning, and optimizing them by listening to your data.

Tip 4: take advantage of programmatic advertising to improve ROI
You or your in-house sales team simply cannot identify all of the digital advertising opportunities that exist right now. So, be sure to take advantage of access to real-time inventory at scale—at a price you can pay—offered by programmatic advertising platforms. When used effectively, new technologies give advertisers the ability to tap into programmatic demand for native advertising, which in turn will allow you to scale your ad buying and put relevant ads directly in front of your consumers using real-time data.

Tip 5: disclose your native ads
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced in June 2015 that publishers will be held responsible for misleading native ads. Until recently, it has not held publishers, including TV networks, radio stations, websites, or apps responsible for deceptive ads on their properties—these publishers were considered to be just a distribution channel. But when publishers are creating content such as native ads, FTC and other regulatory bodies consider them to be more involved in the process and that creates a potential liability.
There are no official labeling guidelines for native advertising from FTC. For example, Google uses the word ‘ads’ while Facebook uses ‘sponsored post’ to mark their native advertising content. But for now, keep in mind you should always clearly label your native ads as such.

a hidden opportunity
As the mobile wave is gripping India, marketers should design ads for engagement, influencing opinions and building a relationship with the consumer. Native, if done right, can do all of these things well. Clearly, native ads look like a rare win-win for the industry—more effective for advertisers, more valuable for publishers, and more acceptable for users. Its suitability for the mobile, social, and video contexts means that growth in native will contribute the large bulk of increased digital display spend. It is time marketers changed their thinking from interruption to engagement.