Key trends in native advertising – Clarity at the CMA Digital Breakfast

On Feb 14th, Clarity PR attended The Content Marketing Association’s (CMA) Native Advertising Digital Breakfast, where speakers discussed the next generation of advertising in digital media.

The session was led by three speakers; Dale Lovell, Co-Founder and Chief Digital Officer at leading in-feed native ad platform ADYOULIKE (who are Clarity clients), Timothy Armoo, CEO at mobile video advertising platform Fanbytes and Chelsea Blacker, Co-Founder and Managing Director at SEO & content marketing agency BlueGlass.

With the rise of ad blocking, ad fraud bots and fake news, consumer tolerance for online advertising is at an all time low. So could native be the solution? Here’s what the CMA’s speakers had to say.

Native Advertising vs. Content Marketing

Dale Lovell kicked off by highlighting the differences between native advertising and content marketing. Where native is the push strategy for marketers to distribute content, content marketing is focused on creating, publishing and distributing content for a targeted audience online.

So now we’ve cleared that up – what can we expect from native in the year ahead? Here are Dale’s predictions.

Top Trends in Native Advertising for 2018

  1. Infeed growth

In-feed ads can be inconspicuously placed within a feed to help monetise brands’ websites and provide a better user experience for visitors. By “feed”, native ad folks essentially mean a stream of content that you can scroll through, so it could be an editorial feed, ie. a list of articles or news, or listings, ie. a list of products, services etc. Because in-feed ads are native, brands can customise them to match the look and feel of their content. Dale expects the number of in-feed ads to increase rapidly in 2018, particularly on mobile devices.

  1. Video

With video consumption on the rise, Dale expects that native video will double within the year, taking market share from the pre-roll budgets. The best branded video content is story-driven and prioritises narrative and audience engagement over pushing the brand.

  1. Context

Native advertising offers brands the opportunity to place relevant content in the best possible context to target, attract and engage their audience. Not all environments are right for your brand, so choose carefully.

Interestingly, a recent study from Newsworks and the Association for Online Publishing found that ads seen in a premium editorial environment are viewed for 17% longer and with 29% higher levels of engagement than ads on social sites such as Facebook and YouTube, which suggests that consumers trust premium content over posts on social media.

  1. Personalisation

Despite the rise in ad blockers, a study by Adobe found that 78% of consumers actually like ads. This is largely down to the power of customisation, or Dynamic Creative Optimisation, which is the process of swapping out elements of an ad creative to better match the target user.

For example, ADYOULIKE’s Native AI solution (powered by IBM Watson) is able to understand what a web page is talking about, so adding DCO into this native mix means that they’re able to tailor creative for user personalisation.

  1. Content

For his final point, Dale reminded us in slightly less PC terms that bad content in the right place is still bad content. Content and native ad strategy need to be aligned to be effective.

Now That’s Advertainment

Next up, Timothy Armoo from Fanbytes introduced us to the concept of Advertainment (advertising + entertainment = advertainment, see what they did there?)

Many brands are struggling to reach and engage with their younger audiences, but all too often, Tim explained, this is because they’re repurposing content across different mediums. An ad that works well on Facebook doesn’t necessarily work on Snapchat, for instance.

Another advertising faux pas is when brands create content in silo, either with no connection to the outside world or completely missing the boat culturally – think Pepsi’s protest fail ft. Kendall Jenner.

Effective advertainment taps into cultural zeitgeist, enables self identification and facilitates self expression – see Nike’s “Nothing Beats a Londoner” campaign. Or, a number of Fanbytes’ Snapchat ads, for that matter. Fanbytes create fun, emotive Snapchat ads, and then distribute them via their influencer network. The company is redefining millennial marketing, mading ads for millennials, by millennials.

Measuring Success

Finishing the session Chelsea Blacker from BlueGlass talked about the importance of measuring the results of native ad placements. Results can be split into three broad categories; awareness, consideration and conversion. Native advertising tends to fall into the latter two categories.

Alongside usual marketing metrics such as referrals, UMVs and social engagement, Chelsea highlighted the importance of measuring “dark social shares”. These are instances where content is copied and pasted and shared in internal channels, ie. email, Slack or WhatsApp. Dark social shares are often missed, and they’re often the ones that count.

Interested in attending the next Content Marketing Association event? See what’s coming up here.

Words @h_frear


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