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What You Need to Know About Native Advertising

Let’s talk about a massive advertising opportunity that has been flying under the radar for a lot of advertisers. It’s not that advertisers have ignored this opportunity, it’s more that they don’t really understand it. The opportunity I’m talking about is native advertising – a misunderstood format with serious potential for brands. 

In 2019, U.S. advertisers will spend almost $44 billion on native ads, which represents almost two-thirds of all digital display spending. In other words, it’s already a pretty big deal. Still, even in the marketing and advertising worlds, not everyone is 100 percent sure what native advertising even means or what types of ads fall under its umbrella. 

Some of that is the nomenclature. When someone says “TV commercial” or “paid search ad” it’s fairly simple to figure out what they mean. But “native advertising” isn’t as intuitive. So, let’s take some time to peel back the layers of this onion and help brand advertisers like you understand how to incorporate native advertising into your 2019 media strategy.

What is native advertising?

Let’s start with a softball question: what is native advertising? Here’s a simple definition from our friends at eMarketer:

“Digital display ads that follow the form, feel and function of the content of the media on which they appear, be it a webpage or an app.”

What do native ads look like?

Native ads come in several formats and on a variety of channels and platforms. Here’s a look at some of the more popular native ad formats.

In-feed ads

Paid social media posts that display in users’ feeds along with organic posts.

Native advertising - In-feed ads

Sponsored content

Ads for online articles, blog posts and other content pieces that show up in the sponsored content section on publisher sites (typically below an article from that publisher).

Native advertising - Sponsored content

In-app reward videos

Videos in mobile apps that reward users for watching (e.g., Pandora videos that offer extended periods of uninterrupted listening after users watch them).

In app reward videos

How can I use native ads in my digital media strategy?

For creative advertisers, native ads offer plenty of opportunities to drive results throughout the consumer buying journey. The key is focusing on your target audiences’ needs, demonstrating how you provide value to those audiences and building purposeful campaigns. After you lock in those three components, it’s a lot easier to decide which formats to use. 

Focusing on your target audience

Before you start building your campaign, make sure you have a clear idea of the types of consumers you’re trying to reach. Conduct in-depth research into your target audience to figure out their needs and wants, what media channels they frequent and how they prefer to interact with brands.  

Demonstrating your value

Once you understand your audiences, identify how your products and services address their needs. Your ad messaging should center on that value proposition in a way that resonates with specific consumers. 

Building campaigns with a purpose

Ask yourself “what specific results do I want native advertising campaigns to drive for my brand?” Make sure your team understands what you’re trying to accomplish and the metrics you plan to measure success against. 

What does the future have in store for native advertising?

2019 is shaping up to be a big year for native advertising. eMarketer predicts that U.S. marketers will spend almost $9 billion more on native ads this year than they did in 2018.

U.S. native digital display ad spending

US native digital display ad spending

Mobile channels, programmatic platforms and social networks are the main drivers behind this increase. And, since there’s a lot of overlap between the channels, there will be plenty of opportunities to run campaigns that incorporate all three.

Native ad formats like video and sponsored articles are starting to become more popular as well, which has taken a chunk out of social media’s share of the ad spend. But social ads will still account for nearly three-quarters of native ad spend in the foreseeable future.

Percentage of native ad spending – programmatic, mobile and social channels

Percentage of native ad pending

There’s also a lot of growth happening in native advertising. Ad tech companies are building out the infrastructure necessary to handle large-scale programmatic native advertising campaigns that have:

  • The ability to test multiple creative messages
  • More sophisticated audience targeting 
  • Better tracking and measuring capabilities

For brands, this means the already warm waters of native advertising should heat up even more. If your brand is interested in diving in, contact Mindstream Media to learn how our native advertising solutions can help your brand crush your media goals.