nativeadsIn the simpler and less complex marketing world which we had just a few years ago, advertising was done according to the motto ‘the largest gathering of people has the greatest potential.’ It was all about reach and the interest of the individual fell by the wayside.

In the big data-driven, sophisticated marketing world of today, however, we tend to consider programmatic and native advertising to serve marketing messages to the right consumer in the right context, drastically avoiding waste coverage at the same time.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has clearly been brought to a completely new level with deep learning, and programmatic and native marketing benefit enormously of that fact. Advances in the areas of user behavior, advertising, and analytics are provided that ultimately ensure campaigns being processed faster and more effectively.

Ad blockers’ impact

Still, in a time of increasing use of ad blockers, marketers need to be much more creative to reach their target group. Probably that’s why all current marketing trends, including native advertising, go into the same direction, which is towards the consumers and their interests, constantly focusing on being relevant and less intrusive and annoying.

Juniper Research, for instance, predicted in one of its latest reports that “nearly 75% of all delivered digital ads will use AI as a means of user targeting in 2022 and that data sharing partnerships will enable publishers to increase targeting efficiency, utilizing acquired data, such as geolocation, browsing cookies, and cross-device identification, to provide end-users with highly tailored digital ads.”

Despite objections to perceived invasions of privacy, ad platforms will continue to seek innovative means of data collection to provide personalized online ads and get more involved in ‘Acceptable Ad’ initiatives. And let’s be honest, native advertising campaigns could easily be considered deceptive from a legal point of view, as they are kind of misleading and cause consumers not to trigger their innate skepticism to advertising, imbuing advertising material with the authority normally assigned to editorial content.  According to an academic article published in 2017, for instance, only 17% of participants could identify native advertising and even if readers were primed, that number only increased to 27%.

Demarcation to content marketing

While content marketing is built up of convincing content to inform or entertain the audience and to create a comprehensive experience for the consumer, it becomes obvious that consumers are nowadays more open to sponsored content if it is seen on the right platforms where the right targeted audience can spot it. Well, that’s exactly where native advertising as paid media tactics comes into play, namely to spread and make it easier for consumers to find the content, helping the storyteller to a breakthrough.

Understanding the similarities and differences between content marketing and native advertising well, allows corporate publishers to design and position content for an even more effective campaign that makes it possible to stick out of the mass of content and information on the Internet and to participate in the conversation of the target group without interrupting it.

Another great opportunity lies in the fusion of content with data and technology, as combining these strategies allows marketers to scale and automate their content. In the future, brands will make their content even more personalized and be able to advertise by using native ads based on even better and deeper insights from data.

The fact remains, however, that due to the merging of content and advertising, the legal status of native ads is not always clear and sometimes classified as surreptitious. There are no industry-wide standards, so journalists, publishers and advertisers fear that readers will lose confidence in the media because of the lack of rules and lack of transparency. Although the publishing industry benefits from native ads, some see it as the downfall of quality journalism, harming the credibility of publishers.

What can be expected?

Still, it is predicted that almost half of all advertising will be made up of native advertising formats by 2020. A survey by Statista predicts in addition a global advertising budget for native ads of USD 5.7 billion by 2018, which is well conceivable, considering that marketers have realized that advertising is not distributed according to the shotgun approach, but perfectly aligned along the interests of the consumers to achieve real success and, above all, user acceptance.

The native advertising study by Seeding Alliance kind of confirms that, stating that the industry agrees that native advertising is an attractive source of income for publishers and advertisers thanks to its integrated placement and scaling options, especially for mobile Internet use. However, it is also clear that a uniform definition and market standards are still missing, so that native advertising receives the full acceptance and trust of the users – although many studies show that native advertising has a positive effect on the credibility, the perception as an expert, the purchase intent and confidence in a brand.

It’s proven as well that users tend to click on native teasers rather than on conventional display ads - especially or just because they contain a media brand in the link. Therefore, it is expected that in the coming years native advertising will dominate the distribution of advertising on mobile devices and account for more than half of the digital advertising market.

Furthermore, the majority believes that an advertisement label is sufficient to distinguish a native advertising article from editorial content, and industry-wide market standards, that dictate the content and formal focus of native ads, are expected to drive the development of this advertising format.

By Daniela La Marca