There’s a lot of hate these days towards banner ads, and rightfully so some might say. Over the years banners have become more frequent, they’ve started interfering with the editorial content and they’ve become increasingly disturbing to consumers.
Hence, the number of users with ad blocking software has exploded. In the US ad blocking grew by 48% to reach 45 million active users by June 2015. And it doesn’t stop there; Apple’s iOS 9 will allow ad blockers on mobile Safari, something that’ll be a game changer for many publishers.
Simultaneously native advertising (definition: the ad follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed) is growing fast as a shark. According to BI Intelligence US spending on native ads reached $7.9 billion in 2014 and will grow to $21 billion in 2018. Compare this with US display-related advertising revenues in 2014 that totaled $13.5 billion.
But the introduction of native ads have not been uncontroversial. The most common objection among consumers is that they feel deceived when they realize an article or video is sponsored by a brand. In a survey conducted by Contently, over 50% of respondents said they don’t trust branded content – although they also said they view branded content as slightly more trustworthy than Fox News!
The question is if this criticism will last, or if it’s just good old skepticism towards any new phenomenon. At Strossle we would argue the latter is the case. We believe native advertising has the potential to become the most interesting – and efficient – ad format ever, also for consumers. Especially if you combine it with intelligent distribution (showing the most relevant ads for each user).
Why? Well, because native advertising forces companies to become fully-fledged storytellers. Just screaming out your message doesn’t work anymore. Every native ad or video has to deserve its audience, which means companies need to think from outside in: why should consumers care about what we do? What can we tell them that has a real value? Advertisers answering those simple questions will get engaged consumers in return, spending more time with their brands.
So, If you find pre-rolls and take-overs intrusive, but enjoy insteresting stories, then you should say “hi and welcome” to those native ads. They might save the free media that you’ve come to love so much!
P.S. If you’re an advertiser, don’t forget to read and comply with the guidelines laid out in IAB:s Native Advertising Playbook.