Google recently announced support for programmatic native ad buying and delivery in mobile. It is a hard nut to crack as it will require coordination between the ad networks with sophisticated programmatic buying capabilities like Google’s DoubleClick and standardization across publishers. And as Adexchanger points out, “Google is not the first to tackle this challenge. Other companies offering native programmatic ads include Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and a group of ad tech specialists including Sharethrough, TripleLift and Bidtellect.” I would add Taboola and Nativo to that list.
What is interesting is the ad portrayed as an example in the article is, well, just a standard call-to-quote ad that you see everywhere on the Web. The article talks up the differences for brands in delivering assets piecemeal – a headline, an image, some tease copy – without ever talking about the contextual difference of native which calls for brands to think about utility and content first. Should brands use native networks – programmatic or not – to deliver ecommerce ads or should they be thinking about how to engage people with content that is now newly relevant because of the native delivery? The example in the article is a pure “machine-view” where the technology to deliver ads in a new format overshadows the whole phenomena of the diminishing returns of display advertising that sells brand or product.
Is Native for Content Delivery Only?
Many brands are using native advertising and networks like Taboola and Sharethrough to deliver valuable content to an audience that has expressed an interest in that subject by consuming adjacent articles and content. You read an article on data breaches and see a related article from a brand on the value of using a data breach coach. This allows brands to earn attention from buyers outside the transactional buy-cycle. This approach is a new way to strengthen brand while intentionally serving buyers who are on a journey that may lead to a purchase or related action. I would call this a humanist view as it puts the user-first not the capabilities of the delivery system.
Native is for More Relevant Content (or Offers)
But if you abstract the concept of ‘native’ and accept that it merely refers to advertising that appears to natively fit in the environment in which it is displayed, you can make an argument that it is suitable to delivering ecommerce/commerce offers as well. Sharethrough defines native advertising, “Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.” You read an article on data breach and see a related offer to get 1 hour free of a data breach coach for your small business. This seems especially suited to mobile where users are often trying to get something done in between snippets of content. On desktop and tablet, users are more realistically following article thread from article thread as they graze their content for the day.
The key to succeeding with native advertising is to deliver highly relevant content or offers deemed so by the performance of those ads. The article would have us believe however that native is just another delivery “envelope” for advertising versus a call for advertisers to think differently about how they are engaging their prospects and customers. Native is exciting because it rewards brands for taking a user-centered view to create content that fits within the places users are consuming content. Let’s get that right before we hijack the content promotion space of native for more of the same old “buy now” ads that didn’t work well in the banner space.
Think about it: